AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Nearly 24 years after the disappearance of 9-year-old Amarillo boy Dorien Thomas, his brother is working to commemorate him.
Dorien disappeared on October 26, 1998. He lived in the area of 9th and North Lipscomb in Amarillo and was last seen riding his bike.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Dorien was last seen riding an aqua blue bicycle with white tires, while wearing a red shirt and blue jeans.
Nearly 24 years later, Cpl. Jeb Hilton with the Amarillo Police Department said Dorien’s case is cold, and he is listed as a missing person.
From time to time, Cpl. Hilton said they have received tips on the case, but none that could ever help them close it.
On Monday, MyHighPlains.com sat down with Brandon Thomas, Dorien’s older brother.
“You know, time heals wounds, but it’s still like a fresh scar, if that makes any sense,” said Thomas. “There’s days where, you know, sometimes you don’t feel it, but then there’s some days you just feel it, and it’s like a constant ache. And so, you know, after so many years without closure, it never goes away. That’s one thing that’s for sure. It never goes away.”
Thomas recently started an online petition on Change.org to have a street or park in Amarillo named after Dorien. Just three days later, it already had more than 500 signatures.
“Just some way to commemorate him, you know, so that his memory lives on. Because a lot of people here, you know, it affected a lot of people, more than I thought,” said Thomas. “You know, it really affected a lot of people, and people still to this day, they talk about it, and they’re very emotional about it. And since I’ve started the petition, I see that a lot of people are very much for this. So, I mean, I really want to make it happen.”
According to the City of Amarillo’s Municipal Code, there is a specific process for renaming streets. Click here to see those requirements.
“It would mean a lot to me and my family, you know, because I know there are times when people bring him up, it’s always about that, you know. And so to shed a different light on it, to me, I think would kind of help to change the perspective of people, you know, that are coming up and don’t know,” he said. “You know, a lot of people go to college, and they study these cases, and his is a particular one. And so, to not always see it in a negative light, to try to make something good out of it.”
Thomas said he and Dorien were very close and had a lot of fun together.
“There were three of us, but me and him, we were the younger of the two, and so we bonded a lot. Like, we had a lot of common friends that I still keep in touch with to this day,” said Thomas. “He loved to go fishing. He loved anything outdoorsy. He loved, being like, he was a gymnast. He loved like doing backhand springs, and he loved diving off the diving board. Just really adventurous and charismatic. He could make friends with anybody he met.”
When asked what his favorite memory of Dorien was, Thomas recounted something that happened when they were kids.
“One day, I was in bed with a toothache and I had a tooth, and it was growing over my other tooth, but it wouldn’t quite come out and so it was giving me a major headache. And I was laying in bed crying, and he was begging me, begging me, ‘Please come outside and play with me. Just let’s ride bikes or something.’ I was like, ‘I can’t. My teeth hurt,'” Thomas said. “And he literally like climbed up in the bed behind me because I had my back to him, and he was like, ‘Which tooth is it?’ and he started putting his finger in my mouth and I like, ‘Ew, stop!’ He was like, ‘Which one is it?’ I was like, ‘It’s that one right there,’ and he hit it, and it came out. He just kind of like pushed it and my mouth stopped hurting and everything, and I spit the tooth out. I went and looked. It wasn’t bleeding, and we went outside and started playing. That was probably one of my favorite memories.”
When asked what he would like to see from the community, Thomas said, “Just to keep the faith. Keep the faith. You know, if anybody knows anything still, you know, you know who to call, you know what to do.”
Dorien was born in 1989 and would currently be 33 years old. The NCMEC released an age-progressed photo of what Dorien could have looked like at 32 years old.
Anyone with information about Dorien Thomas is asked to call APD‘s special crimes unit.