Search crews look for evidence in couple's October disappearance

The search for a young couple missing since October has been revitalized by Red Rock Search and Rescue.

Abby Roberts, 26, of Las Vegas, has not been seen since Oct. 1, two months after the birth of her son. Her boyfriend, Phillip Johnson, 27, was last seen four days later in Torrance, Calif., according to Las Vegas police.

In a renewed effort to find them, Red Rock Search and Rescue joined with police to hunt for clues into the couple’s disappearance.

Renee Roberts, Abby’s aunt, requested their help after the family attended a crime victim seminar.

“This has been going on since October. We worked with Metro and there were not a lot of leads,” Renee said. “We have nothing.”

Thursday night, the search team began looking for a metal trash can Johnson purchased shortly before he disappeared.

“The trash can could provide clues into the disappearance,” said David Cummings, Red Rock Search and Rescue commander.

Evidence shows a fire in a trash can left a heat mark on the garage floor of the couple’s house as well as ash and soot on the ceiling.

“Starting tonight, the search will go on until the case is solved,” Cummings said Thursday afternoon. “Since she’s been gone since October, it’s not a rush process. We’re in a recovery stage.”

The team began their search in the wetlands area. After a few days, they will move to more urban areas, starting within a 10-mile radius from the house near McLeod Drive and Harmon Avenue, Cummings said.

“The evidence we’re looking for will open things up quite a bit,” he said. “We know a good bit about (Johnson’s) comings and goings on that day. We need to find (the trash can); it could really change the course of the investigation.”

The Roberts family remains hopeful Abby will be found safe.

She and Johnson were dating for a year and have a son together. He was two months old when they disappeared, Renee said.

They moved in together a month before the disappearance. The family learned later that she was planning on leaving him because of his infidelity.

“We’re very close as a family,” Renee said, “but if she was going through something, she tried to deal with it alone.”

When Roberts did not show up to work for a week at the U.S. Post Office, where she and Johnson were both employed, the family conducted a welfare check and found she was not at home.

Johnson had dropped off the couple’s infant child at his mother’s house in California, where Johnson was last seen, Renee said. Renee’s family brought the child back to Las Vegas, where they currently have custody of him.

“We’re frustrated and we want answers,” she said. “We want our Abby back.”

The police department’s homicide division has taken the lead in the search.

Roberts is described as a Samoan female, 5-foot, 3-inches and about 125 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. She has tattoos of “Michael” and “Semba” on her wrists and “respect” and “loyalty” on her torso. Johnson is described as a black male, 5-feet, 5-inches and about 175 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

The couple was last seen driving a unregistered black 2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

Anyone with any information regarding this case is urged to contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department homicide section at 828-3521 or to remain anonymous contact 385-5555 or www.crimestoppersofnv.com.

Contact Rochel Leah Goldblatt at rgoldblatt@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381.