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No leads in teen's disappearance
State senator's grandson went missing Nov. 5 from Anniston; has family in Hartselle

From staff, AP reports

TALLADEGA — State Sen. Jim Preuitt said his family is grateful for the support it has received in the search for his 17-year-old grandson, Benjamin Stanford, who was reported missing Nov. 5 from Anniston, where he is a senior at The Donoho School.

Benjamin Stanford is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes. His vehicle was found on Interstate 20 near Villa Rica, Ga.
Courtesy photo
Benjamin Stanford is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes. His vehicle was found on Interstate 20 near Villa Rica, Ga.
Police later found the teen's 2007 silver Jeep Grand Cherokee about 75 miles away, on Interstate 20 near Villa Rica, Ga.

"I have not been notified of any leads," said Preuitt, D-Talladega. "I know the law enforcement officials are doing everything they possibility can. We hope everything works out, and he gets home safe."

He added: "All of us have had death in the family, especially people my age, but nothing has ever been as tragic as this. We're just hoping and praying for his safe return. We want our Ben back."

Preuitt said the family is thankful for the love and support it has received from others. Bill Stanford, a former Hartselle resident, and Lynne Stanford are the teen's parents.

Gene Preuitt of Hartselle is Jim Preuitt's brother and a great uncle of Benjamin Stanford.

Gene Preuitt said he and another brother, Eddie Preuitt of Hartselle, traveled last weekend to Lincoln to visit the Stanfords and then to Talladega to visit their brother.

"I guess they were handling it as well as possible," Preuitt said. "You could look at them and tell what they'd been through. ... Every lead they've had has been a dead end."

Preuitt said that because they live so far apart, he typically sees Ben Stanford only once or twice a year, at family gatherings.

"He's a fine young man, very friendly, with a lot of personality. ... He's special to them and just a special kid," Preuitt said.

A prayer vigil for the teen and his family was held Sunday in the family chapel at the home of William Killough in Sylacauga.

The missing teen is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes.

When last seen, he was wearing rust-colored Carhartt jeans and a gray and purple, long-sleeved fleece shirt, with a white baseball cap.

Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens, who is heading the multi-agency investigation, said someone used Stanford's credit card to purchase gas at the Texaco station on Alabama 77 North, near the entrance to I-20, at about 9 a.m. Nov. 5. Since then, there has been no activity on the card.

In Georgia, the Carroll County Sheriff's Department said Stanford's vehicle was found in the emergency lane of I-20 East. Its doors were unlocked and the passenger side door was left open. The keys were not in the vehicle.

A Missing Child Media Alert was issued Wednesday by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. In Birmingham, billboards are up displaying Stanford's likeness. A bulletin also is on the "America's Most Wanted" Web site.

A Web site, www.benstanford.com, is available for people to post information about Stanford. It states that "all information given will be confidential and greatly appreciated."

$20,000 reward

The teen's family has offered a $20,000 reward for valid information leading to his safe return.

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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