Brent’s Army: The family of 18-year-old Brent Garcia missing since Christmas 2020 in South Carolina fighting for answers

Jackson “Brent” Garcia was last seen in Sumter County, South Carolina, on December 26, 2020.

Brent’s mother, Angel Brown, told Dateline that the family shared a typical Christmas together. “On Christmas morning, I got up, [Brent] was there. He helped me in the kitchen,” Angel said. “Family came over, we opened gifts, we ate.”

Angel told Dateline that nothing about the 18-year-old’s behavior that day struck her as abnormal or unusual. Brent left with his grandmother, Jean Brown, that afternoon. He was supposed to stay over at her house, but instead, left to hang out with a cousin.

Angel Brown

Brent’s brother Justin told Dateline that he spoke with his brother at around 4:00 p.m. that day.

Around 5:30 p.m., their grandmother spoke with Brent, too. Jean Brown told Dateline that when she spoke with her grandson, he told her that he was at his cousin’s house playing games and that he would “be home in a little bit.”

But Brent never returned to his grandmother’s house. Jean said that when she tried to contact Brent later that evening, he didn’t pick up the phone. “I kept trying to call him and I couldn’t get any answer,” she said. “It’s unusual, very unusual. He kept in touch with me 24/7. He never left anywhere that he didn’t tell me where he was going.”

Brent’s mother told Dateline that the cousin was the last person to actually see Brent on December 26, 2020. “It was cold that night and the cousin and Brent were outside with the dog,” Angel said. “The cousin went inside, took the dog in and then Brent was never seen since then.” Angel said that the cousin told her he did not actually see Brent walk away and did not give her any further information.

Angel told Dateline that two days later, on Monday, December 28, 2020, she reported Brent missing to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. “As I was driving to work that Monday morning, I just had this overwhelming feeling that, you know, this has been too long,” she said, referring to the lack of contact by her son.

Angel told Dateline that there were many sightings of Brent reported to both the family and authorities around the time that he disappeared, but none were ever confirmed.

Brent Garcia
Brent GarciaAngel Brown

According to Angel, Brent’s cell phone was recovered from his cousin’s house and immediately turned over to police. She told Dateline that she knows the phone was processed and that data was recovered, but she does not know if any of the information retrieved was pertinent to the case. “It’s still an ongoing investigation. So I’m not sure of everything that they’ve retrieved or recovered from the phone,” Angel said. “But yes, they did recover information from the phone.”

Dateline reached out to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office to get the latest on the investigation but has not yet heard back. According to December 30, 2020 Facebook post made by the sheriff’s office, they “conducted aerial, foot and K9 searches for Jackson at his last known location and in the 15 South area near that location.” They also confirmed that investigators have been following leads as they come in but none have led to Jackson’s whereabouts.

Brent’s brother Justin told Dateline that while he wants answers and for his brother to come home, he thinks the police are doing the best they can with the information they have at this time. His grandmother agreed.

Brent's Army fundraiser
Brent’s Army fundraiserAngel Brown

A local woman who Angel met at a search created a Facebook group called “Brent’s Army” to help spread awareness about his case. Over the past two years, Brent’s Army has turned into a community advocate group for all of the missing people in Sumter County.

Angel Garcia, along with members of the community, have organized search efforts – not only for her son, but for others who have gone missing in the area. “It’s through Facebook, and we have started doing community events. It’s basically just for awareness — mainly to keep all of Sumter’s missing faces and names out there,” Angel said. “We have coordinated our own search efforts whether it’s literally in abandoned buildings, homes, searching ponds, woods. Gosh, you name it, we’ve searched it.”

Angel with a photo of her son, Brent Garcia.
Angel with a photo of her son, Brent Garcia.Angel Brown

According to Angel, the most recent search, organized by Brent’s Army, was a couple of weeks ago on the Sunday before Christmas. The group also recently held a free hot chocolate bar where they decorated a Christmas tree with ornaments with the names of all 20 of the people still missing in Sumter.

Memorial set up by Brent's Army for Sumter's Missing People
Memorial set up by Brent’s Army for Sumter’s Missing PeopleAngel Brown

The county has also given the Brent’s Army group a piece of land to be used to create a memorial for the missing. Angel told Dateline that the group has raised enough money to put up three park benches and a light post to light the way home for the missing. “It comes on every night. The little monument out there that we put up, she said. “Everything is just, you know, to keep all of Sumter’s missings names and faces alive,” Angel said.

Brent’s family is not giving up hope in the search for Brent. Jean Brown told Dateline her grandson is a special person with a big heart. “He loved his family. He loved doing stuff for the homeless. He loved animals,” she said. “And to be honest with you, I’ve never heard anything bad about him. His friends said that he was always right there.”

In a written statement, Brent’s sister, Maddie, told Dateline that her brother is her best friend. “If I ever had a bad day, he was always the person I could run to,” she wrote. She described him as very family oriented. “We were all he cared about and, of course, his animals,” she said. “He was the most genuine caring person I could ever think of,” Maddie said. “He would give you the shirt off his back in the pouring rain just to make sure you were okay!”

Angel Brown

Angel Brown told Dateline that it pains her to think that her son may never know how loved he is by so many. “I hope wherever he is today, he can see it and feel it now, because everything we do is because of him and for him. We won’t stop,” Angel said. “Even on days where I’m weakest, I have Brent’s Army that holds me up. We will continue to look for answers day and night and there’s nothing that we will not do.”

The family is asking for anyone with any information on Brent’s whereabouts to please come forward. “If anybody knows anything or has any information, speak up,” Brent’s brother Justin said. “We’re not giving up on Brent or any of the missing persons, you know? Anything we can do to help anybody.”

Brent would be 20 years old today. He is 5’11 and weighs 170 lbs. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

There is currently a $10,000 reward being offered by Brent’s Army, Crime Stoppers and the Sumter Police Department for information that leads to Brent’s location.

Anyone with information about Brent’s whereabouts, recent activities or people he could be in contact with should call the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 436-2000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC (274-6372). Tips can also be given anonymously by going to