By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Husband seeks closure in cold case
Endres patrice 2a
Patrice Endres - photo by Submitted
Six years after his wife disappeared, Rob Endres still hopes her killer will be caught.

Patrice Endres, 38, went missing about noon April 15, 2004, from her hair salon, Tamber’s Trim ‘N Tan on Matt Highway.

In December 2005, her skeletal remains were found about 10 miles away, in woods behind Lebanon Baptist Church off Kelly Bridge Road in Dawson County.

Endres said he had his wife cremated and keeps her ashes in his home.

“She’s not out in the elements somewhere and that’s some kind of relief,” he said. “But the fact that the person who did this particular crime has never been apprehended and is still out there enjoying life, that’s not right.”

The Endres case remains open, though the search for closure has been plagued by a lack of evidence and false information.
“Obviously, that case has haunted us,” said Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton. “We were just so stymied in the fact that basically it was void of any physical evidence whatsoever.

“She just vanished. That was it. She just vanished.”

Paxton said investigators narrowed her disappearance to a window of about 12 minutes between customers.

The front door of the salon was unlocked and the cash register empty, but there was still money in Endres’ purse. Her truck was at the shop and her lunch was in the microwave.

Paxton said the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office was involved from the beginning and investigators from Cherokee County also took part.

The search continued for some time, expanding after four or five days to include isolated areas.

Authorities looked into her past acquaintances, friends and habits and put alerts on her bank accounts, but nothing surfaced.

Paxton said authorities received “a lot of crazy leads” in the case.

One woman claimed she saw a man and a white van in front of the salon and worked with a sketch artist on a rendering.

“Once we had that information we were putting a lot of work into that one because that was the only thing we had,” Paxton said.

The woman later recanted her story and was charged with providing false statements.

“Unfortunately, it caused us to put a lot of work into something that turned out to be a red herring,” Paxton said. “But as time went on, we had to obviously scale back the amount of people that were assigned to it.

“I think we had two investigators that stayed assigned to that case for a couple of months.”

Paxton said authorities found fingerprints on Endres’ Chevrolet Tahoe, but those matched the mechanic who had changed her oil a few days before she disappeared.

The hope of finding a hair matching her abductor also was dashed.

“We were dealing with a woman who went missing from a hair salon,” he said. “It was everywhere. There was hair everywhere in that place.”

Endres recalled how in mid-2005 authorities zeroed in on accused serial killer Jeremy Brian Jones as the primary suspect.

Jones claimed he killed the hair stylist and dumped her in Sweetwater Creek in Douglas County.

But the subsequent discovery of her body some 70 miles from the creek and the fact that Jones failed to provide specifics other than what had been reported on the news, quashed any belief he was her killer.  

In October 2005, Jones was convicted in Alabama of the rape and murder of Lisa Nichols. He reportedly said he claimed to have killed Endres to get better treatment in prison.

Authorities also focused on Gary Michael Hilton, a vagrant who in 2009 confessed to killing Buford hiker Meredith Emerson before leading them to her decapitated body in Dawson Forest.

Hilton didn’t pan out as a suspect in either.

John Cagle was the GBI special agent in charge of the case. He has since retired and now works for the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, where he is in charge of criminal investigations.

Cagle explained that Dawson County requested the GBI’s help after Endres’ body turned up. While the case isn’t closed, Cagle said things have grown quiet.

He said in the time he’s been with Dawson County he has received one possible lead in the case.

“It was mainly just gut-feeling kind of information, but nothing concrete,” he said.

Cagle noted that it’s been nearly 13 years since 11-year-old Levi Frady’s body was found in Dawson Forest. A suspect still has not been named in that case either.

“As time passes, witnesses go away and things get stale, but you’re always hopeful that somebody will call in with that piece of information that you’ve been waiting for,” he said.

“I was involved in several things at the bureau where a lot of time had passed and all of a sudden you get a call from somebody who says they have information and lo and behold they do.”

Rob Endres said the outpouring of community support for his wife was amazing, not only from law enforcement but from Zion Hill Baptist Church, which granted space for a command post and the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency.

Endres said one of his wife’s clients, who owned an animal hospital, let him hold fundraisers on her property, as well as a memorial service.

He said the support was a credit to his late wife’s impact on the community.

“She was an excellent woman, a wonderful woman,” he said.