25 years after Zavalla man disappears, family has hope with DNA

Bucky's younger brother, Mickey Letney
Bucky's younger brother, Mickey Letney
Bucky and his daughters
Bucky and his daughters
Jackie "Bucky" Letney
Jackie "Bucky" Letney

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - They say waiting makes time stand still, but it's been 25 years since an East Texas family last saw their father and brother.

"The last time we talked to him was '87 - about February of '87," said Mickey Letney, brother of missing man.

Not a word for 25 years. Mickey Letney's older brother, nicknamed "Bucky", simply vanished after moving to Alaska.

"He couldn't get no jobs around here. He went up there for the pipeline. He liked it up there," said Letney.

Once settled, Bucky planned to bring his three young daughters to live with him.

"He went up there to get a start where he could send after his girls," said Letney.

But they never heard anything.

"The Alaskan police they checked the log and said he'd left through the Canada border. He was headed to Texas then," said Letney.

Bucky Letney's family believes he was trying to get to his kids. If that's true, he disappeared somewhere between Alaska and his home right here in Zavalla.

His daughter, Connie Borel, still waits for answers.

"When we found out about the DNA submit we decided me as the oldest daughter would do this," said Borel.

This photo is one of the only memories she has left.  Now, a national D.N.A. database could fill-in a gap in Connie's past.

"That's what it does it tests against the John Does that are in the system at the time," said Borel.

It's a technology that wasn't available when Bucky first went missing. Angelina County Criminal Investigator Bart Riley says DNA brings new hope in old cases.

"Closest relative I would take DNA and send it off to one of those databases," said Sgt. Bart Riley.

The chance at closure brings Bucky's brother to tears.

"Most people in Zavalla that knew him - knew how he was. He'd make you mad - he's made me mad several times. He'd come around the next morning [it was water under the bridge]," said Letney.

Bucky is still loved, and his family isn't giving up on bringing him home.

Connie Borel's DNA is being compared to every "John Doe" in the country on file. The President's DNA Initiative started in 2001, to link family members with missing loved ones.

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