Jeremy Varnell's family didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when the Flower Mound police sergeant left town to run in Sunday's Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in San Antonio. The friends he dined with after the race didn't either.
The first hint that something might be wrong came the next morning when he failed to show up for breakfast. He wasn't at his hotel, either, and his Ford Focus had disappeared from the parking lot, though his clothes and personal effects were found inside his room. Calls to his cell phone went unanswered
Police issued a missing person's alert on Tuesday after Varnell, a dependable, 19-year veteran of the Flower Mound police force, didn't show up for work. His photo and a description of his car were all over the local news.
"We are just very concerned for his well-being," Flower Mound police Captain Wess Griffin told NBC 5 last night. "He's a super-loyal employee and a great guy."
The search lasted less than 24 hours. According to reports, a police officer in Lantana, Florida, was randomly checking license plate in a local motel parking lot at about 6 o'clock this morning when he discovered that the owner of the blue Ford Focus with Texas plates had been reported missing.
There was no one at the hotel registered under the name of Jeremy Varnell, but there was someone with a Texas address named Jack Lawson. When the Florida cop knocked on the door of his unit, it was answered by Varnell, who admitted that he'd checked in under a fake name.
According to CBS 11, he told the officer that he was unhappy with his life in Texas and wanted to start over. So, he'd skipped town and booked a hotel room with a man he'd met online a month ago.
Officials have released few details about his family life. His Facebook profile gives no suggestion that he has children.
In a news conference today, Flower Mound Police Chief Andy Kancel confirmed that Varnell was safe and that the case is now being treated as a personnel matter. For the time being at least, it appears that Varnell is still in Florida.
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So, case closed. Mystery solved. There's only one question that remains unaddressed: Is Varnell any good at running marathons?
Luckily, WFAA is on it:
According to race results, Varnell finished the marathon about 1:25 p.m., after running for five hours, 55 minutes and 44 seconds. He placed 2,075 out of 2,622 entrants.
Six hours is a lot of time to think.