UPDATE, 3:10 p.m. today: Columbia police are using video surveillance cameras and credit card and cell phone records in their search for Tom Sponseller, the lobbyist and chief executive of the S.C. Hospitality Association, Chief Randy Scott said.
Sponseller has been entered in a national crime database as a missing person, Scott said this afternoon. His wallet and cell phone also are missing.
"Half of Columbia has called his cell phone and he has not answered," Scott said.
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Columbia police are asking for help in locating Tom Sponseller, president and chief lobbyist for the S.C. Hospitality Association, who has been missing since Saturday.
“It’s very unusual for him not to respond to phone calls and not to contact family and friends,” said police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons on Sunday evening. “His family wants to know where he is.”
Asked if foul play was a possibility, Timmons said, “We cannot rule out foul play at this time.”
Sponseller, 61, a Citadel graduate, was last seen in downtown Columbia on Saturday at work around noon, police said. Sponseller’s car is not missing, police said.
A family member reported him missing at the Columbia Police Department on Saturday night.
Sponseller is approximately 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has gray/white hair, hazel eyes and usually wears glasses.
A former U.S. Air Force officer, he is married with three adult children, according to his resume on the Hospitality Association’s Internet site. He is past president of the Cayce West Columbia Rotary Club and a past president of the International Society of Hotel Association Executives.
In an earlier career, with Canteen Corp., a contract food company, Sponseller was responsible for operating the outdoor food concessions for the University of South Carolina Athletics Department. This included serving food at major USC sports events, including football at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Anyone seeing Sponseller or knowing his whereabouts is asked to call Midlands Crime Stoppers at (888) CRIME-SC or the Columbia Police Department at (803) 545-3500.
The hospitality association is the state’s major trade association for restaurants, motels, resorts, inns and nightclubs. According to the group’s Internet site, Sponseller is the hospitality industry’s main lobbyist at the State House in Columbia.