Investigator: Soldier didn't leave on his own

LAWRENCEVILLE - A private investigator searching for a missing soldier from Snellville doesn't think the 26-year-old disappeared on his own.

"There's no evidence he did not leave of his own volition, but my gut feeling is he did not leave of his own volition," private investigator Bob Poulnot said. "Everything seemed to be going better in his life at the time of his disappearance."

Poulnot said he found the 2000 black Honda Accord belonging to Jason Michael Roark at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Poulnot would not say what led him to the Morgan County rest stop off Interstate 20 where the vehicle was found, but said he is continuing to follow leads in the case.

Roark was last seen Nov. 9 around 11 a.m. on a surveillance video from the Gwinnett Inn Motel in Lilburn, Poulnot said.

Witnesses told Poulnot the car had been parked in front of a building that contains bathrooms and vending machines for about a month, the private investigator said. Neither Poulnot nor about 30 Gwinnett County police officers who searched the area found any sign of Roark, and Poulnot said the soldier's keys were not near his car.

The rest stop does not have any full-time employees, Poulnot said, and groundskeepers leave about 11 p.m. They return to work about 7 a.m.

"The car just appeared one morning," Poulnot said. "I have no idea why that wasn't reported."

Poulnot said Roark, who has served two tours of duty in Iraq, had no connection to the area. He had trouble readjusting to civilian life after his first tour of Iraq, his mother said previously, and had been treated for depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome since returning home.

Roark first enlisted in the Army after studying at the University of Florida and served with a Special Operations Forces psychological unit.

Texas Equusearch, a professional search and rescue team, already has looked for Roark in the Snellville area, Poulnot said. Team members are expected to return again to search Morgan County before Christmas.

Poulnot said Roark had been enjoying his job at the Texas Roadhouse Grill and usually arrived for work an hour early. He also talked to his mother on the phone nearly every day.

"I believe he did not drive that car," Poulnot said. "Things are pulling me away from any self-infliction of any type. I just don't suspect suicide."

Anyone with any information about Roark is asked to call the Gwinnett County Police Department at 770-513-5300.

Staff writer Christy Smith contributed to this article.