SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A chance encounter outside a Costco in Mount Hope helped solve the five-year-old mystery of a missing man a family believed was dead.

Alicia Clark and her wife Claudette first saw David McCovery a few weeks ago in the median, panhandling.

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“He was hobbling and only had one shoe, and his foot was swollen,” said Alicia Clark.

They bought him shoes, socks and food, and talked with him.

“Cladette asked if he needed anything else, and he said, ‘I just want to go home,'” said Clark.

Home, he told them, was Moss Point, Mississippi. Five years ago, McCovery says he getting his life back together after a stint in prison. He volunteered to help drive his brother’s friend to San Diego to see his child. When he got here, the man asked him to go inside a Burger King to get a drink.

“When I got outside, I looked around, and he wasn’t there,” said McCovery, 61.

Without a phone or money, he ended up on the streets. Having recently suffered a stroke, he became confused. He couldn’t remember contact numbers for his family. And so he panhandled and survived.

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“Never thought it would happen to me. Very hard on me … I just wanted to give up. I thought I would be stuck for the rest of my life … something in me wouldn’t let me give up,” said McCovery.

When he told his story to the Clarks, they posted details on Facebook. Within a few days, they heard from his large and emotional family. Turns out they had searched for him in San Diego over the years and thought he was dead.

“One sister, who thought he was dead, couldn’t even connect in her mind it was David … Then they just started screaming and crying,” said Clark.

The couple put him in a hotel, and a 10news crew met them and McCovery, hobbled from a foot infection and in a wheelchair – at the airport as he prepared to fly home.

“I can’t wait, can’t wait … Full of joy right now,” said a tearful McCovery.

“I’ve never shed so many tears. This has been life changing for him – and me, too,” said Clark.

McCovery says his faith in God kept him going through the rough times and calls the Clarks, his “angels.”

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