*The family of Percy Ronald Chess was used to him disappearing for stretches of time. He had enlisted in the Air Force in May of 1971, but they say after his honorable discharge in February of 1974, he was never the same. He couldn’t hold on to a job for long, and was no longer sociable. In fact, when living with family, he’d eat whatever they prepared for him — as long as it included ketchup, then he would retreat to his room eat.
Relatives thought he may have suffered from mental illness, even though there was no formal diagnosis they could recall.
“He was very secluded,” said one of his sisters, Elouise Chess Williams, who lives in Atlanta. “It was as if he was in a totally different world.”
He’d also disappear for days, even weeks at a time. But 20 years ago he left for good.
As far as anyone knows, Chess wandered for two decades. Family members searched for him, contacted police stations, homeless shelters and everything in between.
They tracked his travels through his arrest record; which consisted mainly of petty crimes such as loitering, prowling, stealing and receiving stolen property. Once, one of his brothers could’ve sworn he saw Chess walking along the highway in Atlanta, but by the time he exited and turned around, the man was gone.
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