By Alyssa Schnugg
It’s been about five weeks since Ginny Merritt has seen her brother, Matthew Loftin, a former pharmacist and University of Mississippi graduate.
After earning his Doctor of Pharmacy at Ole Miss in 2007, Loftin eventually got married and moved to Bella Vista, Arkansas, where he worked at Walmart as a pharmacist.
About a year and a half ago, Loftin was dismissed by Walmart after being charged with theft and this past January he lost his license to be a pharmacist.
Ron Guidry, Loftin’s ex-brother-in-law and friend, said Loftin started doing “uncharacteristic things” about two years ago and that after losing his job and license to practice, Loftin began showing signs of depression.
On Sept. 17, he walked out of his Bella Vista home and hasn’t been seen since, according to family members.
The Bella Vista Police Department found Loftin’s truck on Sept. 20 parked at a trailhead to Back 40 Trails. The Back 40 Trails consists of nearly 40 miles of steep, winding trails designed and built mostly for mountain biking.
“In his truck, they found his phone, his wallet, his keys and he had left a present for his 8-year-old daughter that said he loved her,” Merritt said.
What was missing, however, was a handgun he took from his house. The holster was found in a backpack in Loftin’s truck, Merritt added.
“He didn’t have a history of mental illness, but I think he’s been kind of depressed over the last couple of years but we couldn’t get him to talk about it,” she said of her brother.
Merritt said the police indicated that signs point to Loftin committing suicide; however, his body has not been found. One witness reported to police that they saw Loftin on the Back 40 trails, according to Merritt.
The Bella Vista Police Department had not responded to a request for information as of Tuesday morning; however, the department posted Loftin being missing on its Facebook page.
Loftin is 45 years old, 6-feet, 1-inch tall and weighs about 265 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes.
Merritt said she is trying to get the police department to use cadaver search dogs to search for her brother, but had not received a reply as of Monday.
Loftin lived in Oxford while attending Ole Miss for his undergraduate and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.
“He was a huge Ole Miss fan even before he went to school there,” Merritt said.
Merritt said while all signs point to suicide, she continues to have hope that her brother is still alive.
“I have no idea if he committed suicide or not,” she said. “There are a lot of things that make us think that, but we don’t know for sure.”
Anyone with information on Loftin’s disappearance should contact the Bella Vista Police Department at 479-855-3771.