As authorities continue to look for two Jefferson City teenagers who disappeared this week, family and friends of the two gathered Thursday night to comfort one another and pray for their safe return.reported missing by family members Tuesday and are believed to be together. Both are students at Jefferson City High School.
At a vigil held for the teens and their families at the Boys & Girls Club on Lafayette Street, several people gathered outside in a circle and cried, prayed and hugged one another.
Aimee Briggs has known the teens for several years and told the crowd they should not lose hope.
"Teenage years are hard," she said. "They're confusing. They're difficult, and we want Zach and Lilly and all their teenage friends to know that they are never alone. We love them. It's dark tonight, and it feels dark in our minds when we try to understand where they could have gone. It looks dark in our hearts and we ask why, but there is light. We will not lose hope and we will not stop looking."
Among those in the crowd were several students from JCHS. Sophomore Josh Vilchez said he was among the last to see Johnson on Monday evening.
"Sometimes we'd fight at times and we don't think that this person could be gone tomorrow," he said. "We really hope he comes back. He's been my best friend for years. He will turn up. He will come back, and we will find him. I know a lot of people care for him so much."
Zachary is a white male, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 190 pounds, with blonde curly hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue sweatshirt and blue jeans, carrying a black backpack. Lilly is a black female, 5 feet 1 inches tall, 100 pounds, with longer brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black JCHS Band sweatshirt and blue jeans.
They are believed to be in a stolen 2005 Green Jeep Liberty, bearing Missouri license plate FP8D1J.
As of Thursday, authorities said they could still not detail the reason the teens are missing, and there was still the possibility they could be in danger.
"I want to tell all the young people here that parents have rules and boundaries for your safety," said Zachary's mother, Stephanie Johnson, director of the Boys & Girls Club. "Thank you for being Zach and Lilly's friends and for being here for our families because this is the most traumatic thing we've ever gone through. You guys give me the strength to get out of bed because I don't know where Zach is. Please come home."
Anyone with information that could help in finding the teenagers is asked to contact Jefferson City police at 634-6400.