There is a hole in their hearts that only their son’s return will repair.

David McAllister of Bettendorf is now 27. He went missing in May of 2017, and each year that passes continues to bring anguish to his family.

He last was seen at his Bettendorf home. He left in the early hours of May 11, 2017,  and said he would return that evening.

He had his cell phone, a Bible and a backpack, according to The Charley Project, which profiles cold-case missing-persons cases.

His mother remembers going to work early that day, and she noticed David wasn’t home. She texted him, and asked whether he was doing OK.

He said he was doing some walking and thinking and spreading the Word.,” Marilyn remembers. She texted him a prayer, and said something she never had said before: “I love you to the moon and back. And I’ll never say it again.”

Faith played a major role in David’s life. He and his mother were baptized on the same day when David was younger.

They remained close as David grew older, and even when he hitchhiked from Colorado to California, rode trains and lived on the road.

“Every day, I’d get a text. Every day I’d hear from him … every day,’ Marilyn says.

At first, the parents wondered whether David had taken off again when he disappeared. But as days and weeks went by, his parents grew more worried – it wasn’t like David not to keep in touch.

Months later,  officials traced the last ping of David’s phone off the St. Ambrose tower. That indicated he somewhere near Vander Veer or Garfield Park.

“My gut tells me somebody killed him, and here in the Quad Cities. I believe it was somebody he trusted,’ his mother said. “I don’t think he saw it coming,” she says. “That’s my gut. I can’t prove it.”

“If you know anything, tell,” she asks the public. “I don’t care how small it seems. Somebody knows something. Nobody just walks off the face of the earth. He was 22 years old. He didn’t just disappear.”

“There is a hole in our family that you just can’t fix,” said Marilyn, who only wants to know the whereabouts of her middle son.

“We need to find him, regardless of what that means,” she said. “I would rather find him deceased, and know that he’s in the arms of Jesus, than to wonder every day where he’s at. Is he cold? Is he hungry? Is he lonely?”

His family has said he was dealing with some personal problems when he disappeared, but until then he always kept in touch with them. He did not have a car.

“People always use the word ‘closure.’ But it’s really not closure. It’s a different kind of grieving. Right now we’re just grieving that we can’t find him,” she said.

David’s dad, Jeff McAllister, remembers he talked with David briefly that morning. He asked David if he was going to be coming home that night. “That’s the plan,” David replied.

But sometime in the afternoon David stopped responding to texts and phone calls. “We kept trying,” Jeff said. “We weren’t exactly sure. David had gone traveling on his own. Generally, he told us when he was leaving.”

Now he counts the days since he has seen his son.

“As of today, it’s been 1,715 days,” he told Local 4 News.

“The easiest thing I can relate it to is when a loved one passes,” he said. There’s nothing you can. They’ve done everything possible to find him, he said.

“The difference between having a loved one pass and this is when a loved one passes, you know where they’re at.”

“You never forget,” Jeff said. “You never stop thinking about it. You have good days and bad days.”

Jeff has two other sons to worry and care about. “I love all three of them. You just take it one day at a time. You always hope that you’re going to hear something.”

“I want him home,” he said. “I want to hear him laugh … hug him again. Even argue with him.”

Jeff begs people to look at pictures of all Quad-Citians who are missing. “There are people out there that do watch, and are looking. You appreciate that greatly. You never know if he is out there somewhere. You could be the one who sees, if not David, maybe one of the others that are missing.”

Before David went missing, it was one o those things you think it’s never going to happen to you. But it does.

“Every time we hear about remains being found, we start to wonder is this the time that I’m going to get the call, and they’re going to say it’s David?”

“You hope it is him, as well as hope it’s not him,” Jeff said.

David loved his roofing job. He loved being outdoors, and being busy. “He was an extremely hard worker,” his dad said. Jeff remembers when someone hired David to mow his lawn, and how David went above and beyond what was expected. “When he did something he did it to the best of his ability,” Jeff said. “He was very conscientious about what he was doing.”

Meanwhile, David’s family waits. And wonders.

“I think there is somebody out there that knows something – somebody that has an idea of what happened to him,” Jeff said.

“We’re not looking to punish anybody,” he said, adding that people have many options to remain anonymous.  

“There is a piece of me that’s missing,” said Jeff, who says he will never be whole again until his son is back. “There isn’t a day that goes by without thinking about him, wondering if he’s OK, wondering if he needs anything.”

David has several tattoos, including “Stay” inside his right elbow, “true” inside his left elbow, and a peace sign on his back/right shoulder blade. David, who has pierced ears, walks with a limp. He also has several scars from BMX riding.

Visit the Facebook page, Bring David McAllister Home, here.

David’s case is featured on The Charley Project site here.

David’s case also is featured on the Quad Cities Missing Persons Network.

If you have information that could lead to David’s whereabouts, please contact Bettendorf Police, 563-344-4015; or Crime Stoppers, 309-792-9500.

Anonymous tips can be sent to P. O. Box 1474, Bettendorf, IA 52722.