The Beloit Police Department is working to crack a case unlike any it has ever investigated.
"I mean, it's been over two years and we haven't found him so it's not easy," said Beloit police detective John Fahrney.
For the first time, they can't find a missing person they said simply vanished. Bilial Hammette disappeared Aug. 6, 2011, right as friends say he'd started to turn his life around.
Fahrney took over Bilial's case last month, but he's known the teenager a lot longer. He arrested Bilial on burglary charges in 2010. A search of Wisconsin's Public Court Cases shows the 18-year-old was found guilty of theft and drug possession three years ago.
Some of that bad has been replaced with good in the form of music, but still, sadness lingers.
Bilial's two friends already released a CD in his honor with Bilial's face on the front, but the aspiring rappers have plans to produce a second one for the number of years he's been gone.
"The music is uplifting and you know, inspiring," friend Trace Thayer said. "His disappearance, not so much, you know."
The 18-year-old's mother last saw him that afternoon at their former Poole Court home, but when she returned from visiting with neighbors, Bilial was gone. And no one ever heard from him again.
"For us, it's been a really horrific mystery," Tahj Stewart, who is a longtime friend of Bilial's, said. He said Bilial had put an end to a life of crime. Called "KO," Bilial was about to begin studying at Madison Media Institute.
"Bilial hit the booth and he didn't write, he didn't rehearse, he just hit the booth and he went," Stewart said.
His friends are committed to commemorating Bilial, while Fahrney is set on solving the crime. But Bilial's dark past could be in the way.
"His associates have criminal pasts as well, and do we always get the most helpful information or cooperation from those types of people?" said Fahrney. "Not always; I mean, it's sad to say that, but it's the truth."
Fahrney's task, though, gets even tougher. Bilial didn't have a car, a cellphone or even a bank account to track, and has seemingly vanished without a trace. But Fahrney wouldn't go so far as to say Bilial is dead.
"I'd be surprised if he could go this long without having police contact or having contact with somebody to be able to let us know where he's at," Fahrney said.
"It's the reason why I get up every morning and hit the studio," Thayer said.
As rappers, Bilial's friends never thought they'd be singing the blues. But no matter the sound of music, it will help soothe their souls until their long lost friend comes home.
"I feel like the best way for us to do that is with music," Stewart said.
Bilial's friends plan to release their new CD in February. The original CD sold hundreds of copies.
If you know where Bilial Hammette is or have any information to help police, call the Beloit Police Department at 608-364-6801. Calls to Crime Stoppers can be anonymous. You can reach them at 608-362-7463.
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