published Friday, September 14th, 2012

Missing Ringgold woman told kids of plans

HOW TO HELP

Carolyn Clayton last was seen driving a 1998 silver Mercedes-Benz. The Catoosa County Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information to call 706-935-2424.

Carolyn Clayton dropped off her 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son at their Ringgold, Ga., home early last Friday, asked the kids if she could go visit their pawpaw in Tennessee to get help and drove off in her oldest son's Mercedes.

A week has passed since Clayton's father called her husband, Marvin, worried that his daughter never arrived in Loudon, Tenn.

Catoosa County Sheriff's Office Maj. Gary Sisk said officers still are interviewing family members, searching for any clues to where Carolyn Clayton may have gone. Police reports show there are no signs that she's used her cellphone, ATM cards or credit cards.

When he tried to call his wife last week, her cellphone went to voice mail, Marvin Clayton said Thursday. Later, the kids noticed $210 in cash had been taken from their rooms, he said.

Since her first son was born nearly 20 years ago, Carolyn has been a stay-at-home mom, Marvin Clayton said. Until this school year, she has been home schooling the 11- and 14-year-olds, the youngest of their three children.

Many locals know the Claytons from the Boynton Recreation Center, where he has coached baseball and softball. Carolyn was always out watching her kids, running back and forth between fields so she wouldn't miss either one's game, said Susan Parton, whose son played for Marvin Clayton.

"She was very outgoing with the kids," Parton said.

On Carolyn Clayton's Facebook page, her profile picture says "Softball mom."

Her husband said that, last Friday, she was trying to enroll her daughter and son at Heritage Middle School and couldn't get all the paperwork together that the school required for them to enroll. So she dropped them off at their house at Townsend Circle, and Marvin Clayton went back to the school to finish the registration process. That's when his wife left for her dad's house, he said.

Maybe his wife needed to get away from the recent stress, Marvin CLayton said, or maybe she checked herself into a hospital. But he's afraid because she hasn't called their children.

"The kids are her life," her husband said. "There is no way she would leave them."

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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