WAYNESBORO, Pa. — It’s been more than 920 days since John Rex has seen his daughters.
“I want them to know I haven’t stopped trying," said Rex. "Every single day they’ve been gone, I’ve been trying to find them.”
Yet, at his Florida home, time has stood still.
“We don’t celebrate holidays in my house anymore," Rex continued. "We don’t really celebrate birthdays or holidays since my daughters went missing.”
A Christmas tree remains in his living room, collecting gifts for every day, week, and month that passes without them.
"I just keep putting presents there so when they come home, they know we didn’t forget about them," Rex said.
Skye Rex, 5, Hanna Lee, 7, disappeared from a Waynesboro, Franklin County apartment on March 17, 2020—just a few days after a Maryland judge granted Rex immediate custody of them.
The judge's decision followed a three-year-long custody battle between him and the girls’ mother, Lashada Lee.
When Rex heard the news, he started heading north to Hagerstown, Maryland, where the pair usually met for custody transfers.
“I kept texting her. Tried calling. No answers, no responses on the texts," said Rex. "It was complete silence.”
So he drove to Waynesboro where Lashada Lee was living with the children.
“Her vehicle was gone," said Rex. "There was a camera set up in her front window, so she was monitoring anybody who came and went, but my daughters were gone.”
Court records show Lashada Lee was charged in June of 2020 for custodial interference.
A warrant is now out for her arrest.
Corporal Donald Rowe of the Waynesboro Police Department is one of the officers who has been investigating the case for two and a half years.
“This case is kind of rare, said Corporal Rowe. "Usually it’s resolved within a day, but this seems to be…I think this is something that was kind of planned.”
Even with the help of Pennsylvania State Police and U.S. Marshals, so far investigators have come up empty.
“We have done everything we can think of [using] ways we know of to track people down," said Corporal Rowe. "Each time, it just seems to come to a dead end.”
Like Rex, Corporal Rowe believes Lashada Lee knew what she was doing when she allegedly kidnapped her own daughters.
“Normally someone leaves something for us to be able to find them," he explained. "Like I said, this seems like it was planned. I believe she’s also getting help.”
John believes that help could be coming from Lee’s family in the D.C. metro region.
That’s where both he and investigators continue to target as the girls’ possible location.
“If the kidnapper was truly missing, then why isn’t her family doing more to find her," said Rex.
That's one of the many questions he keeps asking as his daughters remain missing.
"I don’t know who they’re around," he continued. "I don’t know if they’re in a safe environment. I don’t know if my kids are healthy. There’s no indication they’ve been in school going on now the third school year.”
Authorities say there’s no evidence to show the girls are, or have ever been, in physical danger.
"That may be part of the reason people aren’t coming forward, because they’re with mom," said Corporal Rowe. "They think, ‘Well they’re with a parent.’”
According to investigators, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made the case any easier to solve.
“People weren’t out when this just happened, people were indoors," explained Corporal Rowe. "They were wearing a mask if they were out.”
But now, there’s new hope.
It's coming in the form of age-progressed photos recently released by The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, showing what Skye and Hanna could look like today.
“When we release them, it sparks interest in the case, which again helps get the image of the children back out there into the public," said Leemie Kahng-Sofer, a program manager within the Missing Children Division of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Kahng-Sofer says the photos are invaluable tools for authorities, that also keep the faith alive for a grieving father.
“As a parent, you live your life for your kids and it literally feels like my life was taken from me," said Rex.
For police in Waynesboro, piecing John’s life back together is the ultimate goal.
“We’re not going to just stop and not keep investigating this until the girls are home with him," said Corporal Rowe.
Rex has put up a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the recovery of his daughters.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call 911, the Waynesboro Police Department at 717-762-2131 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Authorities continue to stress no tip is too small.