Hunting a Missing Person

I got the idea for this post from an article that blogger Lisa Buske had recently highlighted.
On June 26, 1995, the Virginia State Police worked a single vehicle collision in which two men were killed.

The driver, identified as a 21-year-old student named Michael Hager, is believed to have fallen asleep and his Volkswagen exited the roadway and struck two trees.

Oddly, the passenger in that collision has never been identified.

When authorities began asking about the other deceased man, Michael's friends and family had no idea who he was.

Sadly, the young passenger's face was severely disfigured from the impact, and police were unable to release photographs of him.

The only clues left behind were ticket stubs to a Grateful Dead concert (that had occurred just prior to the collision), some personal effects, and some home-made looking tattoos on the man's body. Also recovered was a mysterious note mentioning the names "Caroline" and "Jason" with the numbers "914;" a possible area code (NY) or prefix.

Detectives tried tracking the tickets' history, but believe that they had been scalped outside the event.

Authorities hypothesize that the unknown man was likely a hitchhiker that the driver had picked-up, and the coroner estimated that he was between 15 and 21 years old.

The individual was nicknamed "Grateful Doe" and the case remains open.


Thinking of Grateful Doe and looking at unsolved missing persons cases in Iowa, this one caught my attention.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Kellar was last seen in Muscatine County, Iowa in 1990.

His family reported that Robert had been depressed and wanted to pursue a music career as well as see the United States--possibly Colorado, Florida, California, or New York.

He had left and returned before, so family members were initially unconcerned. But after not hearing from him for some time, they reported him missing in 1992.

Mr. Kellar is a male white with brown hair and brown eyes, and would have been 26 years old when the unknown man was killed in the 1995 Virginia crash.

Here is a picture of Mr. Kellar, followed by a sketch and computer-generated image of the unknown man in VA.

Missing Man: Robert Kellar

 Unidentified Male, VA State Police: Sketch 

Unidentified Male, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: Generated Image

The weight range between the two is reasonable--135 to 160 lbs. with the missing man and 169 lbs. with the deceased. 

Unfortunately, the height is not close. Kellar is listed as 6'1, while the man found in Virginia was measured at 5'8. 

I looked at the VA man's record to see if there could have have been a mistake, but the recovered size 32 length jeans speaks volumes--a six foot guy would not likely be wearing jeans that length.  

It appears not to be a match. 

So then what is the point of my post?

There are thousands of people around the world who do the same thing that I was doing. 

They try to help police identify bodies. They use Websleuths, NamUs or another vehicle to discuss cases, and search the Internet for clues involving deceased and/or missing persons. 

They even occasionally find information to help police solve a mystery, thus bringing closure to a family. 

And they should be commended for their efforts.

In the meantime, a Virginia male remains unidentified, and a family in Iowa still waits for answers. 

What do you think? 

Could one of the physical measurements be off?

Could the unidentified man in Virginia be Robert Kellar, the hitchhiking musician with long brown hair who may have been heading to New York?

On the off chance that there may have been an error in Mr. Kellar's described height, I submitted an email to the listed contact.  


joeh said...

I am 5' 10" and wear a 30 length, so 5' 8" and 32 seems off to me.

messymimi said...

My husband is 6'2", and wears a 34" length. My husband's friend from college who is 6'11" (yes, that's eleven) also wears a 34" (thirty-four) pants length. He has a tremendously long torso. It happens that way, you can't always go by pants length.

Pat Hatt said...

They do look similar, there could have been a mix up in height, Or maybe he lied about how tall he was by a few inches. Which would bring him down a bit to match.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

So many factors that go into solving these missing persons cases. That collision happened on my 20th birthday.

Chrys Fey said...

I do see a resemblance in the pictures with the nose and mouth. This was interesting. There are so many missing persons cases and the technology to try to figure out what someone would look like is neat. I just wonder how accurate it really is.

Stephanie Faris said...

I think it's great that so many amateur sleuths are now at it. In fact, I think it should be encouraged. Open the database and offer a reward for every case that's resolved by a sleuthing hobbyist.

Mary Kirkland said...

I wonder if there's any DNA from the missing man to match it against the body that was found?

Brian Miller said...

i wonder too about the dna capabilites we have now versus then and whether some of the unsolved cases could be linked to missing persons cases....

Lisa M. Buske said...

I'm glad this article touched your heart and you shared it with your readers. My friend, Laurie Travis shared this on her Facebook page. Laurie's sister, Rose Marie Gayhart has been missing twenty-nine years. Laurie is an advocate for her sister and dedicates her life to helping other families of the missing too. She shares a lot of informative and heart breaking stories on her Facebook page, and the one dedicated to her sister. Her determination and energy to educate, inspire, and help is a blessing to many. You'd like her.

Thanks for sharing the article and taking the time to email just in case there was an error on the recording - may this boy be identified and one family's search end.

Lisa M Buske

ladyfi said...

It's a wonderful initiative that can really bring closure to families.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I feel bad when I read about unidentified dead bodies. There is no sense of closure at all. The missing person's family never knows what happened to their family member, while the police are clueless regarding the dead body's identity.

Maxi said...

This case truly makes me sad, SD. This is a young man and someone out there must miss him, wonder what has happened to him. Hope that he will come home.
blessings ~ maxi

Laurie Travis said...

My sister has been missing over 29 yrs...I still have no answer but I continue to search for answers I will never give up until I get closure... Rose Marie Gayhart missing from Cape Coral Fla. since March 14, 1985...originally from Dansville NY. As I continue to search for my sister I volunteer a lot of my time as well in helping others.. NEVER GIVE UP <3

Anonymous said...!/MissingRoseMarieGayhart

debi o'neille said...

I was a seamstress for years. Some men are short in the legs, and long in the waist and torso, some vice versa. I don't think it's safe to assume the 34' inseam on the jeans can dictate how tall the guy was. Great post!

Bob G. said...

You';d be surprised how many cases can go cold because someone transposed just ONE number regarding age, weight, etc.
You make a good point about that.

When cold-case experts reopen a file, they must have to do such checks (and those can take even MORE time, even with modern tech) to see if anything might provide a lead they could use.

Very good post.

Roll safe out there.

lisa said...

There certainly is a resemblance to the sketch between the two missing men. I guess the only thing for sure is that there are people who are missing them. I do commend you for your efforts in these situations.

Diane Estrella said...

I'm so glad you are connecting with Lisa. Two of my fav bloggers united. We are definitely going to rule the universe! ;)

Holly Lefevre said...

It is so sad and scary that so many go missing without any resolution. The photo/sketch looks very similar and it is quite possible it could be the same dad is 6' and has short legs, wearing a 32" inseam. Intriguing...

Momma Fargo said...

I am 5-6 and have a 32 inch inseam. I think it is an uncanny resemblance in the least. Did you forward the information to them? How about DNA? CODIS? NAMUS? Not having someone identified would bug me as a cop until the end of the earth.Great post!

Slamdunk said...

Thank you for the comments all.

An update, one Robert Kellar's case managers got back to me. He has been eliminated as a possible match with the VA body after dental records were compared.

@ Laurie: Thanks for sharing this post. My prayers are with you. I can't imagine the pain that your family has endured.