Missing Moms: Mo. Daughter Recalls Finding Her Mom's House Empty After Calls Went Unanswered on Mother's Day
This week's issue of PEOPLE explores eight unsolved cases of missing moms, including Echo Lloyd, a Missouri mother and grandmother who has been missing for more than a year
More like best friends than mother and daughter, Echo Lloyd and Kelsey Smith texted and called each other all the time.
So when Smith, 29, was unable to reach Lloyd, then 47, on Mother's Day in 2020, she grew worried.
On that day, May 10, 2020, Smith drove to her mother's house in Edwards, Mo., to give her a card and a pot of flowers.
"Her door was locked so I left the flowers on the back porch," Smith tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.
Smith repeatedly called her mother, "but it went straight to voicemail," she says.
When Smith and her sisters still hadn't heard from her mother by that Friday, May 15, 2020, she headed back to her mother's house to see what was going on.
"I had a bad gut feeling about it," says Smith, who last spoke to her mother on May 9, 2020. "So I went to check on her."
Lloyd's car was parked in front of her house, nestled deep in the woods in Edwards, in Benton County, about 47 miles west of Lake of the Ozarks.
When Smith peeked inside a window in the house, she was startled to see that "the air conditioning and the fan were on," she says.
As her mind began to race, Smith looked for her mother in the shed, where she liked to work on her many creative projects, but didn't find her there either.
"That's when I really thought, something must be wrong," she says.
Growing increasingly worried, she broke a window to get into the house.
While the house wasn't quite ransacked, it was filled with piles of trash and food covered in mold, "which is odd for her," she says.
"She's OCD. She wouldn't have left the house that way. It seemed like somebody else had been there."
For more information about Echo Lloyd and other missing mom cases, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.
Lloyd's cell phone, keys, pistol, and medications were missing. But her purse was under her nightstand along with her wallet, which contained her ID and cash.
Knowing her mother wouldn't leave home without these items, Smith says she felt at that moment like the world was closing in on her.
"My heart and my throat were in my stomach," says Smith. "I couldn't breathe. It was a soul-crushing feeling."
Frantic to find her mother, she ran outside and stood on the railing of a ramp leading to the front deck. "I yelled for quite some time, 'Mom! Mommy! Echo!!'" she recalls.
Terrified, she called 911.
"I started to really feel that I wasn't going to get her back," she says.
A Stalled Investigation
It's been a year and nearly 4 months since Lloyd went missing, and Smith still hasn't gotten her mother back.
"It's hard to wake up every morning knowing she's out there somewhere," says Smith, who has since given birth to her second child who Lloyd will never get to know.
When police began searching for Lloyd, they learned that she had been last seen at a Dollar General in Warsaw.
Her credit cards and phone haven't been used since she vanished and her medications haven't been renewed.
After her mother went missing, Smith and her family started a GoFundMe called Bring Echo Home, to help raise money to aid in her search.
Smith, her family, and others are hoping authorities can get to the bottom of what happened to her mother — and where she is.
"We're frustrated with how little has been done and how little we feel heard or listened to," says Smith.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
She has spent countless hours calling the local and state police, the district attorney, the governor, and other officials asking for help.
"When I call, I'm told, 'Sorry, there's nothing we can do," she says. "It's so disheartening."
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is handling the investigation, which continues to be viewed as a case of a "mother who has gone missing," Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Karen Woodley tells PEOPLE.
Sgt. Andy Bell of the Missouri State Highway Patrol tells PEOPLE that Lloyd's disappearance continues to be investigated.
"We just don't have a lot of information, unfortunately," he says. "That's not to say that we haven't tried. Our investigation remains open and will remain open until we get credible information that we can follow up on."
As authorities search for clues, Lloyd's loved ones cope with the emptiness of life without her.
"You can't put into words how badly your soul aches," says Smith. "I just miss everything about her, absolutely everything. And then I know my kids do too."
The Missouri State Highway Patrol Missing Persons Clearinghouse website includes information about Lloyd's disappearance.
Anyone with any information about her disappearance is asked to call the Missouri State Highway Patrol Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 573-526-6178 or email them at email@example.com. Anyone with information can call 816-474-TIPS with an anonymous tip.