Let’s talk about it: Bryan Hayes and Mark Degner

I find the disappearance of best friends Mark Anthony Degner and Bryan Andrew Hayes puzzling and troubling. They’ve been missing from Jacksonville, Florida since February 1, 2005 — twelve years, nearly twelve and a half.

At first the circumstances of the boys’ cases look pedestrian enough: they were living in a group home, told friends they were going to run away, and apparently did just that. They were even sighted in Holly Hill, a small town south of Jacksonville on the Florida coast, two months later.

And yet.

The boys, at just twelve (Mark) and thirteen (Bryan), were extremely young to have been gone this long. Bryan had run away before, but never for longer than a day, and Mark had no history of running away. Furthermore, they were developmentally delayed, functioning on the level of seven- to ten-year-old children, and both suffered from bipolar disorder.

How could they have remained off the map this long? Did the boys meet with foul play? If they’re still alive, why haven’t they resurfaced and who’s helping them stay hidden? Were relatives investigated? Were some member or members of the boys’ families unhappy that they were living in a group home? Or is it possible they fell victim to sex trafficking? Due to their disabilities. I should think they would have been extremely vulnerable to any kind of exploitation — even more so than most runaways.

The case reminds me of Clayton Lynn McCarter and Rodney Michael Scott, who ran away from a Bowling Green, Kentucky children’s home three and a half years ago and still haven’t been found. They were almost the same age: fifteen and thirteen. Clayton was developmentally delayed and had psychiatric issues, just like Mark and Bryan, and there’s a good chance Rodney had similar problems though I don’t know that for sure. I’m not suggesting McCarter/Scott disappearances are related to Mark and Bryan’s, though, given the distance in both time and space.

So what do you think happened to Mark Degner and Bryan Hayes? Let’s talk about it.


16 thoughts on “Let’s talk about it: Bryan Hayes and Mark Degner

  1. Julie June 8, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    I can’t believe you posted this case as a Let’s Talk About It – it’s the number one case in all the years I’ve been following missing persons that has always stayed with me/had me the most puzzled. I’m very interested to hear what people think.

  2. marsyao June 8, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    As we know they at least survived 2 months on the run, how did they make their living ? so I just want to know a little bit more detail about their condition when they were last seen, did they look hungry ? Whether they dressed in clean cloth? Were they with someone? etc. These information may give us some clues

  3. Jennifer Cook June 8, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Would love for the investigators to give it some media attention…….

  4. Vision Jinx June 8, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    I always question sightings well after the disappearance. I don’t understand how some sightings are verified. What exactly makes them verified? Anyways, in my opinion, if the sightings are true I see a Shawn Hornbeck or Stanley Staynor situation. Both cases were young boys kidnapped by sexual predators and kept alive for years. Although, 12 years seems like a stretch. Their disabilities would make them extremely vulnerable. 2 months on their own? Not likely, someone had to have been taking them in.

    • Vincent June 8, 2017 / 7:36 pm

      Steven Staynor.

      • Vision Jinx June 8, 2017 / 8:07 pm

        Thank you! Going off memory.

    • Julie June 12, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      I have always been curious how this sighting was verified also

  5. Medea June 8, 2017 / 7:34 pm

    Maybe they didn’t stay together and meet different fate in totally different places and time. I think a demise linked to their untreated condition is more likely then a kidnapping scenario. Extremes risk taking, self medication, maybe violence or suicide.

  6. Jaclyn June 9, 2017 / 12:22 am

    I will give you some very good feedback on this since I work in the same office of an agency that gives most everything a homeless or less advantaged person needs to survive, sometimes housing (but their is often a long waiting list for this). My husband works for a drop-in homeless persons center that does the same. In California, especially on the coast, there are numerous homeless people that also have mental illness. It does not get that cold at night here, so there are places they can sleep, then they show up at the drop in centers and get breakfast and lunch, showers, wash their clothes, etc. Every night of the week a church serves a dinner, so their is that option as well. At the job where I work, (not my job directly, but one in the same office as mine) men and women alike are given all the the personal hygiene items needed, food, temporary shelter, and more.
    Some of these people, particularly the men, go up and down the coast getting free services. They also get transportation cards to use for buses, sleeping bags, blankets, clothes, suitcases, etc. Like I said, many of these people deal with mental illness, and they are protected from anyone that would force them to contact a relative because they are adults and have been given a legal right to remain autonomous from anyone that might try and take their freedom away. All of the services are confidential, so some of these people remain off the grid by choice.

    • Medea June 11, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      It’s the same here in Montreal, a lot of homeless person suffer from mental illness, sometime very severe cases. They manage to live, or to survive in the streets anyway.

      • Meaghan June 11, 2017 / 10:15 pm

        I didn’t see any homeless people in Poland — none that I could tell, anyway — and only one beggar. She didn’t act at all like the beggars in the US, who mostly stand there at heavily trafficked street corners with signs soliciting money. She was an old, dark-skinned woman silently kneeling on the sidewalk, staring down, her hand out, palm up, to accept whatever was offered.

    • Julie June 12, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      However, if they were two young boys coming in for these services, I would assume that the employees would have some obligation to notify law enforcement, no?

  7. Jaclyn June 9, 2017 / 12:24 am

    typo correction *there, not “their”

    • marsyao June 9, 2017 / 7:23 pm

      According the link you posted here, LE do not find anything

  8. Kat June 11, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    All I’ve seen article wise is the dig came up empty. Shame, it would have been nice to have her case solved, too…..

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