Carpenter was married and had two teenage daughters at the time of his disappearance. He was also the founder of Christian Publishers Outlet and owner of Heir Press. Reports say Carpenter failed to return home after a late-night visit at his Heir Press offices on South Campbell. Family members called authorities to report Carpenter missing and the next morning police traveled to Heir Press.

Once authorities arrived and searched the building police found very few clues as to what might have happened to Carpenter. The only thing police discovered at the scene was a tan shoe that belonged to Carpenter on the sidewalk. Police also discovered red material on the building, but was later determined not to be blood. Police couldn’t find any evidence that anything was stolen from the office but police suspected a possible burglary. The only thing that was missing was Carpenter’s 1996 Geo Tracker.

Police discovered a red substance at Heir Press.

Despite his family and friends creating prayer groups and posters stating Carpenter was missing, police didn’t find any evidence pointing to an abduction. He was a man in his 40s and could have simply left town.

Rev. John Lindell, a pastor at James River Assembly soon established himself as the lead man to spread to word about Carpenter’s disappearance. Members of the James River Assembly developed a 24-hour prayer chain hoping Carpenter would return home safely. Those prayers were answered. The truth of what happened to Carpenter would soon be revealed.

Discovering Carpenter’s secret life

The truth was Carpenter actually got a new job at Payless Cashways and was living a few miles outside of Memphis Tennessee. It was also discovered he was courting a new woman.

His new love interest would later tell police that when they first met in the summer of 1997 at a bar, she said he explained that he was newly divorced and trying to start a new life. Carpenter would send love notes and even lingerie to her.

Back in Springfield police were laying low and revealed very little to local media about the case of the missing associate pastor. However, the police were very close to discovering the truth. During the investigation, police discovered a bill from a pager service in Buffalo, Missouri. They noticed a frequent caller was from the Memphis area. Detectives tracked down who the number belonged to, Carpenter’s new love interest.

Detectives eventually contacted the woman and police told her Carpenter had a wife and two teenage daughters. The woman agreed to give the police Carpenter’s new cell phone and a detective gave Carpenter a call.

Police contacted Carpenter’s wife to tell her the news– that her husband was alive and in Tennessee. His wife and Pastor Lindell traveled to Memphis to take Carpenter home. After coaxing him into the car, Carpenter was driven back to Springfield and admitted into CoxHealth.

There were reports that once back in Springfield and under medical care, he was diagnosed with a dissociative fugue. However, this was not verified by a medical professional.

What is dissociative fugue?

Dissociative fugue (psychogenic fugue, or fugue state) presents as sudden, unexpected travel away from one’s home with an inability to recall some or all of one’s past.

The word fugue comes from the Latin word for “flight.” People with this disorder can lose their sense of personal identity and wander away from their homes or places of work. They often become confused about who they are and may create new identities.

Dissociative fugue has been linked to severe stress, which might be the result of traumatic events — such as war, abuse, accidents, disasters, or extreme violence. The use of alcohol and certain drugs can also cause fugue-like states.

Dissociative fugue is a relatively rare disorder. To be diagnosed a patient will go through an evaluation and though there isn’t a specific test for this diagnosis the doctors may recommend various diagnostic tests such as EEGs or blood tests. Brain diseases such as epilepsy, head injuries, and sleep deprivation can lead to symptoms similar to those of dissociative disorders.

Carpenter enters plea agreement

On July 6, 1999, Carpenter entered into a plea with Greene County Prosecutors. Carpenter was charged with making a false report and staging his office to look like it had been burglarized.

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