PILESGROVE — The family of David Gipson Smith holds out hope that he is still alive nearly three months since he went missing on Aug. 5.

Gipson Smith, 28, was last heard by his family on Aug. 6 when he left his family’s home in Pilesgrove to go to Maryland. He is described as about 6 feet 4 inches tall and  230 pounds, with blond hair and brown eyes.

On Monday night, the Sharptown Church, where his father is the senior pastor, was filled with 400 candles and a large Candle of Hope, according to NJ.com.

The service offered support and prayers for the family and law enforcement working the case and a plea for information.

"We pray for those who know more than they are willing to share. We hope you will soften their hearts and encourage them to speak the truth," Robert Vanderslice, a Salem County freeholder, said from the pulpit in a video of the service posted on the Missing: David Gipson Smith Facebook page.

Gipson Smith's family members have previously said he met two women in Ellicott City, Maryland.

In September, Gipson Smith’s mother posted on Facebook about her son’s disappearance. She said he had planned to visit a friend in Catonsville, Maryland, and in his last text message with his father confirmed he had arrived. Julie Smith said the friend he had planned to meet had a change of plans and had arranged to set him up with someone else for the weekend.

Julie Smith said her son had gone to Ellicott City to meet the woman and stayed overnight on Aug. 5. She said her husband tried unsuccessfully to reach her son the following morning. The said family members didn't have the name of the new friend or contact information for either.

The last known text message Gipson Smith sent was to his friend at 12:19 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 6, his mother said. After she responded, they spoke on the phone at 12:36 a.m., she said. He then received a call from the woman in Ellicott City at 4:10 a.m. that lasted just two minutes, according to phone records pulled by his mother.

Days after he had left, Smith’s parents contacted the two women in Maryland, according to his mother's account.

The Ellicott City woman met David’s parents “at an abandoned piece of property in Lisbon that her uncle owned and where she had dropped David off on Sunday, August 7," his mother said.

Julie Smith said the woman told them they had spent Sunday together and “she actually told us that she mentioned to David that if he saw the uncle on his property, David should hide and keep out of sight.”

The woman left Gibson Smith on the property on Sunday “with nothing — no food, no water,” and did not return until Wednesday, his mother said. She said she returned with a “tub of supplies” for him, but he was nowhere to be found. Returning two days later, she said, the supplies had not been used.

The mother said the woman showed them the supplies she had left, but that after meeting her she wondered about the veracity of her story.

The family said in its statement that they spent 45 minutes searching the expansive property before calling the police. When police responded to the scene she said they used a helicopter and a cadaver dog to try to locate David.

 

According to a Facebook post by the Howard County Police Department, officials believe Gipson Smith was using heroin the day before his disappearance. Police also said that Gipson Smith had packed “many of his belongings” before leaving for Maryland and had taken what he could carry from the car before disappearing while leaving the rest behind.

A reward of $6,000 has been posted for information leading to Gibson Smith's safe return.

Howard County, Maryland Police are asking anyone with information about Gibson Smith's  whereabouts to call 410-313-STOP.

— With prior reporting by Adam Hochron

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com