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The Dove's Tail

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Coincidence is defined as a remarkable concurrence of events without apparent causal connections. It is a sequence of circumstances that appear to be related but sometimes are not. But how many coincidences are too many? How many lines must be drawn together before we can no longer accept them at face value? Today’s story explores that very question.


First, I would like to shout out a dear friend Cassie Ciavola for bringing this case to my attention. I never heard of Caleb's story, and she first handily put me in touch with his family. I would like to thank April, the mother of Caleb for speaking with me. April’s heartache has been a continuation of puzzling thoughts about her son. Although her son is no longer a missing person, she needs more answers and the right ones to be able to finally rest.




Caleb Nathainel Smith was born on November 6, 1998, in Dalton Georgia. His parents April Arrington and Jacob Smith were high school sweethearts. Soon to follow was his baby sister Chole. When Caleb was two his parents split up and Caleb's father moved out. A relationship that left a void was short lived, however, when Caleb’s mother met a man named Daniel. April and Daniel were never married but they remained together for over a decade. The family grew and soon Caleb had two more siblings, Mary Catherine, and Cannon. Caleb and Daniel had a hot and cold relationship, something typical of stepfather and son. Caleb was a good kid; he was very loving to his family and had the biggest heart.



The family enjoyed taking trips to swimming holes; these were always exciting as rope swings into the water were a good thrill-seeking experience. When Caleb turned eight the relationship with his father Jacob lost any hope when he passed away. This event in Caleb’s young life took a huge toll on his mental health and would follow him for the rest of his years. He did have his stepfather to lean on and he and April attempted to fill the loss that Caleb carried but no one can replace the loss of a father.




Once Caleb reached high school the course work was just not something he could handle. It was mainly due to his mental health struggles. Realizing this April allowed Caleb to step back from traditional high school, but Caleb did enroll in an online program to still obtain his diploma. Caleb wanted to become a herpetologist. He loved reptiles, being most interested in snakes, lizards, and frogs. April recalls a time he would bring them into the home to scare her. These are the faded memories she holds close now.



As a teenager Caleb had a lawn care side job and would often help his elderly neighbors with anything, once going so far as to demolish a neighbor’s bathroom to rebuild. He had an interest in building things. One time he built a treehouse for his sisters. Despite his interests and jobs, Caleb’s mental health slowly started to catch up with him again. He started therapy and managed medication. Caleb moved in with his grandmother (Donna) in Eton, Georgia so Caleb could refocus his life. He was doing well.


On January 16, 2020, approximately 11:00 PM, Caleb told his grandmother he was going to visit and enjoy time with some friends in Rome, Georgia. He mentioned leaving the deadbolt unlocked so he could get back inside in a few hours. He drove some distance, approximately 25 miles, to The Flying J Truckstop in Resaca, Georgia, arriving around midnight. According to phone records Caleb called his grandmother a short time later after leaving the residence. This was because Caleb realized he was out of gas and was calling her to see if she could lend him some money. However, his grandmother did not answer. After this call was made Caleb called his other grandmother Martha (April's mother) to ask her the same question. She did speak with Caleb but was unable to help him at that time. During this phone call Caleb walked into the Denny’s restaurant that was adjacent to the truck stop and convenience store. There, surveillance footage captured Caleb sitting at a table by himself and before ending the call with Donna, he told her there was a guy there and he was going to ask him for gas money. Caleb did speak to a man that was sitting at another table at the Denny’s. It was brief, but it is unknown what was said during the short interaction. Since Caleb was looking for gas money, we can assume this is what Caleb was asking the man for. However, Caleb walked back over to the man a short time later. Why? No one knows who this man is to confirm what was said during both interactions. After this Caleb made his way back out to the parking lot of the truck stop. The rest is seemingly a mystery.



On January 17, 2020, when Caleb didn’t return home, his grandmother became concerned. Any phone calls were going straight to his voicemail. Luckily, with the phone calls he made the night prior, she knew the first place she should look. The Flying J truck stop. When Caleb’s grandmother arrived, she found Caleb’s car parked in the parking lot. The 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was backed into a parking space. While there, she grew suspicious of a white Nissan that was parked next to Caleb’s. She was scared and called Martha and told her the situation. Martha and her husband met his grandmother at The Flying J. After their arrival is when the white Nissan drove away. Approaching Caleb’s car, they noticed the car doors were unlocked, and Caleb’s keys were on the driver’s side floor, his jacket on the front seat and his cellphone with the battery for it taken out, were locked inside the glovebox. Oddly enough Caleb also had a half tank of gas in his car. When the police were called because Caleb was nowhere to be found, they showed up and looked around the area briefly. Unfortunately, there was no surveillance footage of the outside of the establishments. There was no way to tell what happened to him the night before, other than what was on the cameras inside Denny’s restaurant. Filing a missing person's report on Caleb was all anyone could do now. His car was given back to his grandmother. Nothing in his car was ever processed.


Caleb's car the morning of January 17, 2020

White Nissan

Message between Caleb's grandmother and the detective

Later that day, April arrived at The Flying J. She wanted to see if there was anything she could find out. With a missing poster of her son in hand she kindly asked the manager if she could hang it on the store door. According to policy nothing could be hung on the doors, but he did allow April to leave the flyer on the counter. Still no sign of Caleb, April returned on January 20, 2020. She met with Denny’s restaurant manager Josh. He was very kind and told April about the surveillance footage from that night. This is when April viewed the surveillance from that night. She saw her son inside the Denny’s that night and witnessed the interaction with the man. Josh also informed April about the absence of any footage outside of the buildings. The most unusual piece of information she received was there also a girl missing from the same truck stop.


Keeslyn Roberts disappeared from The Flying J January 18, 2020, she had yet to be found


On February 2, 2020, the police department received a 911 call from Aaron, a property owner on Hill City Road. He was calling in a small brush fire. This location was on Hill City Road in Sugar Valley, approximately 5 miles from The Flying J. According to the dispatch call the area was about 40 feet in length. Gordon County Fire Department arrived to put out the blaze. The Georgia Forestry arrived to make sure everything was contained and put out. While inspecting this they came across the nude body of a young male. The body was lying in a marsh area a couple hundred yards from the fire. Around the body were many shoe impressions along with tire tracks. The body was suspected to be that of Caleb Smith. There were no personal belongings on him including clothing and shoes. He was transferred to the crime lab in Atlanta to compare dental records to Caleb. No one was allowed to identify him in person or by photos, but the dental records did determine this was in fact the body of Caleb Smith. The coroner conducted a toxicology screening, and the test came back positive for methamphetamine (0.24). This was all they needed to rule his death as accidental due to drug overdose.


Area map of a walking distance from Flying J to the property on Hill City Road

Location where Caleb's body was recovered

Location where Caleb's body was recovered

From that day everything changed for April’s family. They no longer had Caleb, the kind and caring young man. The outdoorsy guy that had an interest in all things reptilian. The loss was tragic and the impact immense. The family had many questions that didn’t seem to faze law enforcement. Like any family would they started digging to find some missing pieces for all of this. Caleb was supposed to visit with friends the evening he was last seen by his grandmother. It seems he was supposed to meet with a woman. There was confirmation from a woman that he never showed up at her home. Most interestingly he never contacted her about gas money or that he was even going to be running late, according to Caleb’s cellphone records. There was one contact in his phone that stood out from the rest. This was conversations between Caleb and his uncle’s wife that alluded to a relationship. It is not known before Caleb’s disappearance if his uncle knew about the affair, but April recalled an incident that took place shortly before he vanished. Caleb had a physical altercation with his uncle (Alex). It is alleged Alex held him against the wall by his throat and then slammed him to the floor knocking the wind out of him. A short time later when Caleb got home, he told his grandmother about the incident and he was ready to phone the police, but she suggested he drop it. It was dropped but Caleb told April this fight was over a name Caleb called his grandmother. Seems extreme for a simple name call. Could this have been because his uncle found out about the affair then? Only Alex holds those answers. Oddly enough the place where Caleb had his therapy sessions at, his uncle’s wife also worked there. Blame it on a small town? Maybe. How did Caleb walk 5 miles away from the gas station, nude on top of that without anyone seeing him? His clothing has never been found, including his shoes, so where are they? Was Caleb laying in this marsh area this entire time? How did no one see him there if there were clear tire and shoe impressions around his body? How did the fire occur? It was wintertime, and a brush fire is unlikely that time of year. Not to mention all the rain that was dumped in the days before the discovery. Could the fire be related to Caleb in some way? If Caleb had gas in his vehicle, why would he be asking for gas money? We can state the obvious and assume he wanted money for drugs but how did he obtain drugs? It seems he never left the gas station in his car so who picked him up or who did he hitch a ride from? There were no signs of drugs or paraphernalia in his vehicle. Sure, anything could have been left in the pockets of his pants but again where is his clothing? Is it all seemingly a coincidence? Was Ian Flemming accurate “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action”.


Caleb and April

If you have any information about the death of Caleb Smith or his whereabouts the night of January 16, 2020, now is the time to come forward. By doing this you will prevent another person from the same fate.

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8件のコメント

5つ星のうち0と評価されています。
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2023年9月17日

Exactly where did you get your journalism degree/experience from because I'm not understanding how a rumor can be sited as a creditable source of information. If I were the Kephart's, I'd definitely take legal action against the author of this article and everyone that was apart of it for slander. You can't tarnish someone's name and reputation by word of mouth and call it a reliable source. I understanding a lot of people are hurt and broken by this tradgedy, but peicing together a theory based of hearsay and creating a false narrative of people indirectly involved won't solve anything. You're extremely unprofessional and not a real journalist.

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I’ll tell you who’s being unprofessional…in no part of this article was the name “Kephart” mentioned. Interesting decision made by you to add their name here. That’s a violation of their privacy that you chose to make. Professionalism was managing to state relationships with using names. Think about what I’m saying here. I now know their name.

いいね!

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2023年9月17日

Such a tragic story. I worked at the Dollar General Market when he went missing. I remember his mom coming in there absolutely desperate to find him, she wanted to review the cameras. I felt for her deeply as a mother. I pray she gets the answers she deserves. 2 young people taken far to soon.

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2023年9月17日

This article lacks credible sources. I have personal experience working alongside Brittany in the treatment unit, and I can confidently affirm her consistent professionalism. Other members of the CSU team can vouch for her conduct. It's essential to note that the unit is under 24/7 monitoring, ensuring that patients are taken care of and away from techs. A family member can easily access records to confirm that he was not even active in the downstairs treatment team during Brittany's tenure at the unit. Therefore, the information presented in the article is entirely inaccurate. However, I do recall a situation involving him having an aunt employed at the unit. She mentioned that he had strong feelings for her and wished fo…

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You do realize that you provided a first name that was not a part of this blog? Could you consider posting without the name? As far as I know, only one first name is used here. By adding these details, you are potentially causing more harm than good.

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2023年9月17日
5つ星のうち5と評価されています。

The Sheriff's Dep, in my opinion, had dropped the ball in both cases, Caleb's and the young lady that is still missing.

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Agreed.

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