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'I just hope they are found safe': A father's plea as a Tempe mother and two kids are still missing

Amy Harshbarger checked her two sons out from school early on Aug. 13 and has not been seen since.

TEMPE, Ariz. — It has been almost three weeks since anyone has seen Amy Harshbarger and her two sons, 7-year-old Miles, and 14-year-old Garrett.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” Justin Sterkenburg, Garrett's father, said.

It has been more than a decade since Sterkenburg last saw his son but has never lost the love for his firstborn child.

“I’ve never stopped loving you, I've never stopped thinking about you. And there are a lot of people who feel the same way"

Sterkenburg has not been able to keep up with his son with the exception of the occasional social media update. It was on social media that he first learned of his son's disappearance.

“It’s a band-aid off a wound I thought healed a long time ago,” Sterkenburg said.

Sterkenburg and Harshbarger met in high school. The two developed a relationship and eventually moved down to Arizona. The two had Garrett together, but then their relationship fell apart.

“The woman I thought she knew, was not there anymore,” Sterkenburg said.

Sterkenburg said he cashed out his retirement and spent $25,000 to try and get partial custody of his young child. His efforts were unsuccessful. Sterkenburg said financial issues forced him to move back home to Ohio.

Sterkenburg planned on contacting his son through social media when he got a little older.

“I've always held out hope that I'll be a part of his life," Sterkenburg said "Not knowing where she is. That hope is in jeopardy.”

On Friday, Aug. 13, the Tempe Police Department said Harshbarger checked Garrett and Miles out of school early.

Her family said she told friends they were going camping in the Prescott or Payson area but was not specific.

The kids were not back at school the following Monday.

Police said no one has seen them since. In fact, police said Harshbarger may not actually be camping but driving a 2004 silver Toyota Sequoya in Alabama or Tennessee. They have given no indication as to why they believe that might be the case.

“I've spoken with detectives, there is not much to go on," Sterkenburg said, "Nobody knows where she is.”

Although Sterkenburg has been estranged from Garrett for years, he still feels the uncertainty.

"I just hope they are found safe," Sterkenburg said.

Tempe police are asking for anyone with knowledge of Harshbarger's whereabouts to come forward.

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