ST. GEORGE — More than five years after Macin Smith’s disappearance, there have not been any confirmed sightings or signs of the 17-year-old who left his home in St. George on Sept. 1, 2015, seemingly vanishing without a trace.
Bob Oedy, a Southern California resident who has no personal involvement or direct connections to the case, said he became intrigued by Smith’s disappearance when he watched a television program featuring the baffling mystery, which attracted widespread national attention.
“I became really interested in the case,” Oedy told St. George News. “I was like, ‘Man, this story doesn’t add up.’”
Oedy said he then went to the “Help Find Macin Smith / MacinsArmy” Facebook group page and was disappointed by what he found there.
“I got on the Facebook group and joined the group,” he said. “I realized not too long afterwards that, hey, this is not a ‘Find Macin Smith’ group. This is more like a general missing persons group.”
“There’s a dozen or so other general missing persons groups. They don’t need any more of those,” he added.
Because five years had elapsed since Macin Smith went missing, Oedy said he decided to send one of the widely distributed photos of Macin at age 17 to a photo manipulation expert to create a new image depicting what Macin might look like now at age 22.
“I was thinking if he’s really out there, he’s probably homeless and he’s probably grown his hair out,” Oedy said. He’s probably got like a goatee or a beard or something like that.”
However, the manipulated photos Oedy submitted for approval weren’t well-received by the administrators of the Facebook group, he said.
“No one ever got back to me,” he said. “And then when I contacted them again, I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’ They sent me another one saying, ‘Oh, well, you know, the family says everyone in the family has a hard time growing facial hair.”
“I thought, well, macinsarmy.com could not possibly be available, right? Because I mean, there’s 52,000 people on their Facebook (group),” he said.
The fact that both domain names were still available, Oedy said, indicates a lack of interest on the part of those who are supposedly still trying to locate Smith.
“It just tells me that they’re not looking. They’re not looking at all,” he said.
However, Jolyne Bowden Gailey, a close family friend of the Smiths who serves as an administrator for the Macins Army Facebook page, says nothing could be further from the truth.
Gailey told St. George News the “Help Find Macin Smith / MacinsArmy” Facebook group, which was started years ago by Macin’s uncle Keith Bratt and Macin’s mother Tracey K. Smith, has been an “amazing” resource.
Gailey, who said she spends several hours a day operating and administering the Facebook group, said she routinely receives submissions and tips from the many hundreds of people that are active on the social media platform. Another volunteer runs a related Twitter account based on what the group posts on Facebook, she said.
Regarding the age-progressed images Oedy sent in, Gailey confirmed they didn’t meet admin approval to be posted on the group’s Facebook page.
“Macin, his father and brother were unable to really grow facial hair,” she said. “It is very unlikely that he would or could ever look like this.”
“I feel bad if Bob Oedy felt slighted by this,” Gailey added. “He said he respected our opinion. To us, it’s false advertising to portray Macin in a way that we do not believe he looks.”
Additionally, she said Macin’s family has come to terms with the idea that he is unlikely to still be alive.
“After five years and much deliberation, we truly believe we are looking for a body and not an ‘age progression’ Macin,” Gailey said.
Like any other submissions, Oedy’s photos were given consideration and followed up on, Gailey said, adding that all submissions are thoughtfully evaluated by the group’s administrative team.
“We have, literally, hundreds of people submitting things like this and not everything is going to be acceptable to us. That is our right to determine that. This page was started by his uncle and mother, and I assist in running it how they choose.”
During his earlier interview with St. George News, Oedy said his intentions are not to cause harm but to simply help solve the case and find Macin.
“Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I want to do is add anybody’s pain,” he said. “I just feel like some of these questions have to be answered. I think the reason (this case) resonates is because it doesn’t add up.”
Both of Oedy’s websites are filled with numerous photos of Macin Smith, along with links to previous news stories and television programs. He also provides a timeline of events of that fateful Tuesday morning on the first of September 2015 when Macin failed to show up for school at Desert Hills High School, and the days and weeks that followed. A list of 30-plus questions casts a skeptical eye on the various details and circumstances of the case and the people involved.
Oedy has also created and posted short videos on YouTube such as “Macin Smith’s Note in Question,” which dissects the circumstances surrounding a three-page note that Macin’s parents reported finding in his wallet. In another recently posted animated two-minute video titled “When Macin Smith Went missing,” Oedy outlines inconsistencies he sees in Macin’s parents’ stories.
“It’s time to take another look at the case, with fresh eyes, and a more aggressive investigation,” Oedy states in the written introduction to the latter video.
Nevertheless, one of the videos prompted an emphatic disclaimer in response from Macin’s Army Twitter account, which stated, “Macin’s Army on Twitter does NOT endorse, support or recommend these alleged theories, findings, claims or statements made by this YouTube video.”
Oedy said his amateur research has also had him looking into Macin’s interests in music, computer games and Japanese animation.
For example, Oedy said he came across a video taken by a participant at Sabakon Anime Convention in Las Vegas Sept. 5-7, 2015, a few days after Macin went missing. Oedy says he believes one of the convention attendees shown during the video resembles Macin Smith, who was known to be an avid anime fan.
However, Gailey emphatically dismissed Oedy’s claim and said the tall young man seen in the video wearing a wig and red costume is not Macin Smith.
“I can absolutely identify that this is not Macin,” she said, noting that the man in the screenshot has “a large nose and nostrils, bushy eyebrows and a square jawline, all things that cannot be faked, like dyeing your hair.”
Gailey also made no apologies for the Macin’s Army Facebook page being used to share information about other missing persons. In fact, she said, several people to date have credited the page’s help in successfully finding a loved one.
“We do not ever want someone else to feel as hopeless and hurt as we do,” Gailey said. “That’s what this life is about, helping others along the way.”
Even now, five years later, interest remains high in the Macin Smith case, Gailey said, noting that the Investigation Discovery television channel is still airing its episode devoted to the case, titled “The Silent Son.”
“That always generates a new crowd,” Gailey said. “I actually spend several hours a day working on this cause. Most of my days are filled with following up on photos and thoughts that people send me.”
“Even though that page seems quiet, we are doing important things in the background,” she said, adding that group members conduct small independent searches on a regular basis.
“In fact, at our four-year mark, our desert search generated 110 physical volunteers, some who traveled from out of state,” Gailey added, referring to a search conducted in September 2019.
Despite their markedly different opinions and ideas, both Oedy and Gailey appear to share at least one thing in common: a fervent desire to find Macin Smith.
Macin, who was born April 7, 1998, was described as being 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds at the time of his disappearance. He also was described as having blue eyes, blond or light brown hair, and wearing size 14 shoes.
A St. George Police spokesperson confirmed that the Macin Smith case remains active and open. Anyone with relevant information is encouraged to call 435-627-4300.
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