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'I spent 18 days in absolute hell' | Body found in field confirmed to be missing Killeen man, now, his family is seeking answers

Samantha Forrest believes her son's missing person case was not taken seriously. She says she attempted to get help several weeks before his body was found.

KILLEEN, Texas — A Central Texas family is still searching for answers in a tragic missing person case. 

21-year-old Jason Forrest went missing in August and was found 18 days later.

Forrest's family says everything was normal leading up to his disappearance. 

Forrest had just gotten a promotion at his job and bought a car. He even had money for a down payment on a house, and his relationship with his family was like no other. It was tight-knit.

On the morning of Aug. 8, Forrest's boss showed up at his family's front door claiming he did not show up for work. His mother knew something was wrong, so she filed a missing person case with the Killeen Police Department. 

As several days went on, the Forrest family said there was no sense of urgency with the department until Jason Forrest's grandmother, Suzanne Swanson, emailed the CID commander.

The next day, two supervisors and a detective were all assigned to the case with phone numbers.

"We thought it was such a victory, or we won," Swanson said. "But really nothing had happened, except we got the police to do their job.". 

On Sunday, Aug. 27, Killeen Police notified the Forrest family they had found a body they believed to be Jason's. His mother, Samantha Forrest, says detectives told her the body was discovered in an open field just minutes away from their home. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 29, Samantha Forrest says the funeral home confirmed the body was in fact Jason's. The body was completely decomposed because it had been out in the field for 18 days.

Samantha Forrest says the tragedy has struck their family, causing absolute heartbreak and devastation. 

"I spent 18 days in absolute hell," Samantha Forrest said in tears. "I didn't have to spend those 18 days worrying about where he was, if he was eating, if he was scared, if he was hurt. They could have found him sooner."

Samantha Forrest says detectives told her they believe the cause of death could be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"I absolutely refuse to believe that my son called somebody, packed his phone and his iPad into his backpack into the vehicle, had them drive him to an empty field and then he shot himself," Forrest said. "He still had Amazon packages at the house that he ordered. He was not planning on killing himself. Somebody somewhere knows at least one more thing than I know about my son's death, and they're not coming forward."

The Forrest family says while police could not have changed what happened, they could have changed how it ended.

"We're taught from this little age that if you need help you go to a policeman," Samantha Forrest said. "Then when you need help, and you go to a policeman, and they try to tell you no, you don't need help. Yes, we needed help. Jason needed help!"

Now the family is speaking up in hopes of being a voice for others. 

"I am putting together a timeline of all the things that have happened, trying to be very specific with dates, times and names," Swanson said. "Texas Rangers will be on top of this because it's too late for us, but it's not too late for other people."

A visitation will be held Friday, Sept. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Chisolm's Family Funeral Home in Killeen.

The Killeen Police Department told 6 News there are no updates to report on the investigation at this time. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

A GoFundMe to help out the family can be found here

"I didn't really think people were listening to me the whole time, you know, and apparently they were, and people fell in love with Jason just hearing me talk about him," said Samantha Forrest. "The community has really rallied behind us and did everything they could. That means so much."

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