Hancock County

‘I just don’t feel him.’ Waveland mom believes her missing son is dead, and she wants answers

So many rumors are flying around about the disappearance of 27-year-old Brennan “Smokey” Simolke that nobody knows what to think.

His mother, Missy Mauffray Simolke, believes her youngest son is dead. She hasn’t seen him since July 24.

“I don’t believe he’s here anymore,” his mother said. “I just don’t feel him. I believe he was murdered. If my son was here, he would have contacted me.”

Brennan lived with his mother and her boyfriend in an apartment in Waveland. He had been released in January from prison, having spent most of his time since age 17 locked up on drug charges.

He was trying to find work, his mom said, but kept drifting toward friends who were fond of methamphetamine and gangs.

The last night she saw Brennan, she said he told her that he was going to Sunflower Street in the Bayside Park community, where a friend of his lived. She said the friend is a member of the Simon City Royals gang.

Later that night, a Hancock County sheriff’s deputy was trying to pull over a car that sped up and drove away when the blue lights came on. Officers chased the car onto Mississippi 603, then onto Interstate 10 east. The driver pulled off the highway near the woods, bolted and ran. Two passengers ran, too.

Deputies caught the driver and one passenger. But the third occupant, believed to be Brennan, ran into the woods and hasn’t been seen since.

Officers found a small bag containing a “crystal-like substance” on the driver’s floorboard, according to the incident report.

The driver was arrested, Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said.

Adam believes Brennan was the man who jumped from the car and ran, but he can’t say for certain.

“We’ve had many rumors and people coming in and saying they knew this and they knew that and it turned out they were just repeating what someone else told them,” Adam said. “We don’t know what to believe.”

‘I know my son’

Missy Simolke also has heard conflicting accounts. In her heart, she does not believe Brennan left Sunflower Street alive.

He was always a trusting person, ready to believe or help anyone. “He could never see the ugly in somebody,” she said.

The family has been through a lot. They lost their house to fire when Brennan was two or three years old. Hurricane Katrina took the family home in 2005.

Brennan’s older brothers were fraternal twins. One of them died of brain cancer nine years ago.

His father died of cancer in January 2018.

With so much loss, Brennan knew to stay in touch with his mom. He always had his phone. And he always let her know what was going on — even if he was getting into trouble.

“I know my son well enough,” Simolke said. “He would have picked up the phone and said, ‘Mom, we’re in a high-speed chase. Here’s where we’re going.’

“He knows Mama’s going to fuss, so he better call me now and get it over with rather than calling me later because it’s going to be 10 times worse.”

“. . . If he was still here, he would have contacted me because he knows, from when his brother died, that my biggest fear is someone’s going to knock on the door.”

The possibility seems like a foregone conclusion now: Someone is going to knock and tell her she’s lost another son.

Brennan missing poste_fitted.jpeg
Missy Simolke has put out the word that her son is missing. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has a missing persons case open on him. Courtesy of Missy Simolke

Gang involved?

Her head is spinning with the rumors she’s heard. The men who were in the car with Brennan even tell conflicting stories. One says Brennan was in the car, the other has now backtracked and says he wasn’t. One says Brennan had his phone, the other says no.

She’s even consulted a couple of mediums or psychics. Both of the women see Brennan in a marshy area with water. They can’t say exactly where.

She thinks his disappearance is gang-related. She does not believe her son was a Simon City Royal, but she knows he dabbled in meth and smoked marijuana. She said his friendship with gang members came from being in jail.

She knows somebody knows something about what happened to Brennan. She is spreading word on social media that he’s missing.

She wonders why someone with information about Brennan’s disappearance does not call Coast Crime Stoppers and offer an anonymous tip. Or, they could call the Sheriff’s Office, which has an open missing persons investigation on Brennan.

The ashes of Brennan’s deceased brother are with the surviving twin.

One of the psychics told Simolke that she heard Brennan speak. He said, “Mom, I don’t look the same. Please find my body so I can be cremated and be with my brothers.”

Anita Lee is a Mississippi native who specializes in investigative, court and government reporting. She has covered South Mississippi’s biggest stories in her decades at the Sun Herald, including the Dixie Mafia, public corruption and Hurricane Katrina, a Pulitzer Prize-winning effort. Nothing upsets her more than government secrecy and seeing people suffer.
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