Region 8 Mother Missing Since Sunday

October 6, 2004 – Posted at 3:55 p.m. CDT

INDEPENDENCE COUNTY -- A Region 8 mother is missing, and her family fears she may be in danger. The search for 24-year-old Joni Renee Taylor has authorities in Independence County working around the clock and her family asking questions.

Sheila Luckett said her sister was doing well in the days before her disappearance, "She was real happy. She was glad to be back with her ex-husband, and everything was going fine for her."

Luckett and her family are worried though. They believe that her ex-boyfriend Oval Loftis took her last week, after he was released from prison.

"We've been really scared," said Luckett.

Capt. Bill Lindsey of the Independence County Sheriff's Office said, "There's nothing in her past that would indicate that she would just leave like this."

Loftis has a history of problems with the law. He's wanted by Jackson County authorities for felony probation violation.

"If he did actually abduct her, then yeah, we could consider him extremely dangerous," said Lindsey.

Joni's family says she moved to a residence on West Wright Street in Sulphur Rock to get away from Orval Loftis. But no one has seen or heard form Joni since last Sunday.

"She was always really scared of him. Of what he could do and what he did do. He's been in and out of jail, prisons, everything," said Luckett.

Joni's family received a phone call from the Scottish Inn in Jonesboro last's the last anyone's heard from her.

"She had called collect, and mom said yes, she'll take the collect call and Joni said, "mom" and then the phone hung up," said Luckett as she clutched pictures of Joni, fighting back tears.

"Her mother had made some statements that she thought there had been some threats mad by this man before, so that's one of the reasons we're concerned about her safety, to be sure she is all right," said Lindsey.

But for now, her family waits, and Joni's two young children try to understand.

"They ask about their mom. We just tell them she'll be back later because we don't know what to tell them yet. They're taking it pretty hard, it's hard on them," said Luckett, "It's hard on all of us."

Police officials say they believe Loftis may be headed to Florida with Taylor, traveling in Taylor's car. If you have any information about their where about or have seen Taylor's silver 1996 Ford Taurus, please call the Independence County Sheriff's Office at (870) 793-8838.