Third ID Soldier Vanishes from Downtown Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/18/06

Third ID Soldier Vanishes from Downtown Savannah

Spc. Robert Hornbeck Spc. Robert Hornbeck
Eric Hornbeck Eric Hornbeck
A Third ID soldier survived a year in Iraq, but tonight his family is worried he didn't survive a weekend in Savannah. The soldier, from Fort Benning, vanished without a trace while visiting friends and family this past weekend.

WTOC spent the day with his parents, who tell us they don't believe it's the case that he went off on his own. They say their son just returned from Iraq in January, he only had two weeks of active duty left and was supposed to be getting married in July.

Eric Hornbeck has spent the past three days trying to find his son. Robert Hornbeck is a specialist in the US Army and has been missing since early Sunday morning after a night out on the town.

"They had been drinking too much, so we came up here to get them," Eric told us. "There were soldiers running around, acting silly as heck. His friend came around the front and said, 'Let's go get Rob.' And he was gone. They were together at that point. We haven't heard from him since."

The last time anyone saw Robert was at the DeSoto Hilton early Sunday morning, and his family believes he is still in the area.

"He's got to be around here somewhere, I think within half a mile," Beth Hornbeck, Robert's stepmother, told us.

"I've looked in alleys, I've looked in garbage cans, I've looked under bushes," said Eric.

But still no signs of their son. "We got him through Iraq for the year, but I couldn't get him through Savannah," said Eric. "I don't understand it."

"This is so out of character," said Beth. "If he could get to us, he would."

Which has led a father to believe the worst. When asked if he thought his son was still alive, Eric said, "No, I don't. I think time is against us now."

But if he is, and simply ran off, Eric has a message for his son: "If he just went off on a lam somewhere, I am here to say, Robert, we love you we can work it out. Just come on home."

When we spoke with Beth Hornbeck about the situation, she said it's been very hard on all of them and says she now knows what Natalie Holloway's mother feels like, and like Hollaway's parents, the Hornbecks are in unfamiliar territory. They are from Michigan and were only in Savannah visiting. They say they will stay as long as they can.

The police have found no evidence that a crime has occurred. The family has been monitoring his checking accounts, cell phone and credit cards, but there has been no activity on them. It's like he just vanished.

Robert Hornbeck was last seen wearing a white button-up shirt with blue stripes, dark khaki pants and shiny black shoes. He has an American flag tattoo on his left bicep.

If anyone has information about Robert Hornbeck, they're asked to call CrimeStoppers at 234.2020. The family is also offering a $10,000 reward.

Reported by: Christy Hutchings, chutchings@wtoc.com

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