Even though it's been a spell since I've posted, gears are still turning in the background. The US investigators are still looking for answers. We are still pushing the police in Panama to stay on the case (as much as they'd like to close it, call it cold and move on). Not having a body, or the car, or any blatant suspects is tricky, too. The estate is a messy mess of messes. That is the most I have to update right now. Hopefully this helps answer some standard questions (so I don't have to when I'm out enjoying life).
This week marks the one-year mark since my dad went missing. The US courts recently declared him deceased. Given those markers, and that it's Father's Day, I thought it important to have a memorial to him. I made this website in tribute to him, for family and friends near and far to celebrate his life. Please take a moment to celebrate Bob, the character we knew him to be, and add your own stories. Share the website with those who will want to know. Thank you. #findbob. (FYI: The investigation is still ongoing.)
#findbob The police and others in Panama are currently working to re-interview everyone and continue to look for more evidence now that the case is finally being considered a sincere missing person's case (versus him just on vacation, which the police wanted us to accept). Always still hoping for answers. Thank you.
Update on #findbob: there is nothing new to report on the case. I've had a few inquires lately from friends and family. If there is anything significant to report I'll let you know. Meanwhile, the case is still open and actively being investigated. The FBI and police in the U.S. have been very responsive and helpful, doing all they can on this end. I am involved weekly, often daily, with the investigation in Panama. Unfortunately things don't move as efficiently in Panama as they do in the U.S., much less as quickly as a snappy 45-minute TV show. That would be nice. The Panama police, investigators, and lawyers will attest that I've been relentless in this search. Thank you for your kind thoughts and suggestions. But right now, it's like asking progress on how the snail is doing in the frozen ice, "any new continents been explored yet?" Umm, how about 5 feet?
Heading home today. The trip was useful. Met with the US Embassy, in-country FBI (Legal Attache), ACS consul, Consul General (US), Panamanian Fiscalia 1era Superior (head DA), the Private Investigator, my local lawyer (even victims need lawyers there to get anything done), and a friend that has been helping in Panama the whole time. We are not even near to getting answers (as so many wished I'd get), which I didn't expect to get either. But, we have more people (and of higher authorities) working on the case.
It's a long journey. I was told by others with experience in missing persons' cases to prepare for a marathon, not a sprint. So very true. It's frustrating to keep hitting walls, but we continue to move forward, however slow, and hopefully someday we'll have those answers. #findbob
I am in Panama, keeping the investigation active. That's all there is to do at this point. A few other To Do items, but mostly here poking the authorities to keep the case active. The US Embassy & in-country FBI have been very helpful, but they can only advise, they can't take over the investigation. Fortunately, Panama is one of the more cooperative countries (with the US) in the region. #findbob
I am heading again to Panama tomorrow for a week to make sure the police haven't closed the investigation and meet with some others involved in the search. Hopefully working toward some answers and not more questions. (A friend will be going with me, so I won't be alone.) #findbob
Today marks six months Pops has been missing. I hope that his spirit is at peace. This has been a horrific journey searching for him; I hope some day we have answers. But for now, I know he would want us to enjoy loved ones, drink deeply, eat well, and be merry. I hope all those out there with missing family members find answers and, even more, find peace. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Much love, Mariah
p.s. Angel giver, thank you for the gift. I know you know how much that means. :)
Happy Thanksgiving, in America! Pops loved to spend Thanksgivings in Panama. He would bring the US holiday to his local friends and make a huge meal for everyone there. Pretty sure that was one of the annual Panama highlights for him. He loved to provide an abundance of food and cheer.
In other news this week, the US Embassy in Panama is keeping on top of the investigation and pointing out where the Panama police are slacking. It is very nice to have someone (authority wise) in my corner, versus having to continually follow up and pressure everyone to keep the investigation active (and point them in various directions!). Frustrating doesn't begin to explain the feeling I have over this aspect of the search. But, there are a lot of good people helping out and we continue to search. 5.5 months missing. #findbob Warm thoughts and full bellies to everyone. Love, Mariah
Long, tough week (extra thankful for the past couple weeks being pleasant). The investigation seems to have a new energy down in Panama. Still working, as always, at it up here in the States. Some of the hoops I have to jump through are ridiculous, but I keep doing the circus tricks for the authorities and keep pushing forward. #findbob #iNeedaVacation
Press attention is kicking back up in Panama this week. Hopefully the increase of TV news interviews/stories will turn up something relating to the investigation, and help #findbob. We might have to launch more letters to senators to keep the pressure on the authorities.
I turned on the World Series last night just in time to see the Cards take the lead that won the game. Then broke my day tear-fast. Sigh. He would be on cloud nine with his beloved Cardinals in the World Series. #findbob
Real life PIs are vastly different than how they work on TV; and cases certainly don't all get solved in a neat little hour.
We got the first report from the PI team. It had the results of a lot of checks, some conclusions, mostly eliminating general facts/leads, and looking for more leads to investigate. It's a frustratingly slow process. Nothing new from the Police either.
The current frustrations have been particularly heavy on me this week. I've tried to be sensible, strong, and persevere through the tough days to keep up the search, the paper work, the legalities, the accounts, answer everyone's questions, and still maintain my own life. I'm taking a break for a few days. I'll be under a rock somewhere. Until next week. Have a good weekend.
Nothing new on the search front. Slogging through 100+ pages of police reports, interviews, etc., I just received. Hoping I see something the police and/or PI didn't see. So far mostly pretty mundane. #findbob
Nothing new to report on finding my dad. Still slogging through a lot of accounts to get everything managed and safe. I try to tackle 2-3 accounts a day (including follow ups). Such a nightmare. I highly recommend having a POA and Will drawn up for every adult in your family. You never know what kind of crazy might happen. Sigh.
It's so easy to go missing in the thick jungles of Panama and Costa Rica (see article http://bit.ly/15xM8RH). I like that there are still untouched places on this planet, but we need to remember that there are still dangers too, and that caution should be taken. It's too easy to have a false sense of security when traveling these days -- as the world becomes more accessible.
Not too much more to add from yesterday. I spoke to Mr. Hurst today. Apparently we have done everything possible to get the government involved in the case in Panama.
The Panama Police do not give updates on open cases until they are finished with an investigation. The President of Panama, Martinelli, has personally asked for updates (he ranks high enough!).
Mr. Hurst explained more about how the US FBI and FBI counter parts (Legal Attache) in Panama are working with local authorities, offering whatever resources they have available. At this time, they do not believe there is any evidence of foul play.
Good news/bad news. The U.S. State Dept ACS (in D.C.) country officer for Panama, William Hurst, has made some inquires on my behalf. My dad's case will NOT be on VP Biden's agenda this month in Panama (the bad news). The good news is that Panama President Martinelli is aware of the case and has personally asked the DIJ to make it a priority. Thank you everyone for your messages to the VP and senators. OUR MESSAGE IS GETTING THROUGH! I'm so impressed at the power of the people on this day. The more attention we can get on it, the more the wheel will squeak, the more we can keep the authorities involved and searching for my dad. The closer we get to bringing him home. Thank you.
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Dear Vice President Biden:
While visiting the Republic of Panama in September, I sincerely hope that you focus some attention on the grave issue of missing Americans in Central America. I am writing to you on behalf of American citizen and Vietnam Veteran, Robert C. Ehlert (Bob), who has been missing since June 21, 2013, in Panama. Family and friends across the U.S. have been contacting their senate representatives to promote a missing person search for Bob. The FBI is now engaged to help Panamanian authorities with local search effort. The FBI is greatly limited by the Panama police, who are, sadly, very unmotivated in the search to find Bob.
In recent years, there has been a flood of missing person cases, including many Americans, who vanish without a trace in Central America. In rare cases, it is for ransom or extortion purposes, but in many cases, the purpose and evidence surrounding the disappearance is unclear. Given the newness of Bob's case, I beseech you to bring awareness and pressure the Panama authorities to do more, or to give the FBI more room to investigate.
We are deeply concerned for his safety. Bob and his car have been missing since June 21, 2013. Missing person reports are filed in both locations. His daughter and nephew flew to Panama to follow up with local authorities and the American Embassy. We hope that Bob's service to his country will be rewarded by the country taking an interest in finding him.
It takes an intervention from the State Department and Foreign Relations Committee to get the Legal Attaché at an U.S. Embassy in another country to prioritize a case.
It is my hope that you can take the lead as an official spokesperson for ongoing and recent closed cases of missing Americans, especially in and around the Republic of Panama. Opening trade options through the canals can also enhance the opportunity for drug trafficking and other illegal activities. It's important to take a tough-on-crime stand and express your desire to keep Americans safe. Investigations for missing children seem to mobilize more quickly than the cases involving adults. We want to remind you that each missing American abroad is someone's child. You can make a difference by streamlining search and engagement protocols for missing Americans, and also by publicizing issues on safety abroad that impact all Americans.
Thank you for keeping Americans safe while attempting to enhance enhance our ability to compete in the global economy. Sincerely,
Joseph Biden, VP of US, will visit the Panama in September. Please contact him now, to put more pressure on the authorities to keep the search alive to find my dad. He's particularly receptive to Maryland constituents. Thank you. #findbob
U of MN Master Gardeners, friends of my dad, are meeting at his house today with my mom to help tame the wilds of his yard, so it doesn't look abandoned and help with the maintenance. All out of the goodness and kindness of their hearts. Heroic humans are those that help others. Thank you so much. #findbob
We have hired a PI and are hopeful more information and/or my father will be found from these efforts. Thank you all so much for your help and support. I've been learning a lot of other's that have gone missing abroad. From this, I've learned that our efforts have been significantly greater than most, let's keep the momentum going. Please write, email, and call your local state senators and urge them to push the FBI and US Embassy to keep the investigation going. thank you. Mariah
Sue, the Chisago Master Gardener co-ordinator (with whom my dad has volunteered for years) is meeting my mom at his farm this Wednesday to take a look at the yard and assess how much work we need to do to clean up the property. She said she can get at least 6 people together to help work. She said to not worry about tools, mowers or any of that stuff. They will even worry about refreshments. If anything, this whole surreal business with my dad disappearing has made me more aware of how generous and kind so many people can be in times of trouble.
Help us find and bring home my father, Bob Ehlert. I'm absolutely heartbroken to make this request and to deal with the fact that my dad is still missing. My dad, Bob Ehlert, has been missing since June 21. $7000 is close to the current sum of the investigation. If I hire a PI, it'll be more, unfortunately.
He was last heard from in Panama (where he lives half the year). No one has heard from him nor have I been able to find any trace of him, yet. Through my family and friends, we have managed to launch a significant campaign contacting senators, urging them to push the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, State Department, and US Embassy in Panama to take action to help find my dad. We have managed to get the FBI involved. They, unfortunately, can't do more than the local Panama police will allow them. We are now looking at hiring a PI to do an independent search in Panama. At this point, the bills are quickly adding up. Lawyers, paperwork, travel expenses, all those little things you never think about are becoming a significant burden. (Because who EVER prepares for something like this?! See end for how you can!)
My dad is a very outgoing, gregarious man, has lots of friends, was enjoying his retirement part time in Panama and part time in Minnesota. He loved volunteering, gardening, sailing, and was a Vietnam War Vet. We are all worried and torn up by his disappearance. Some days I'm able to set it aside and address my daily life and job, but other days are not as easy. Many have asked what they can do to help. If you support me, and whatever that form takes, thank you. I am so impressed at how amazing my friends and family are. Times like these really shows the true colors of people, and there's a whole shiny rainbow around me of their beauty. The money donations, notes, hugs, last minute mountain trips, or simply understanding my current erratic behavior mean the world to me. Thank you.
My deepest and heartfelt: Thank You, Mariah
What I've learned we should all do, with every family member: prepare a living will and assign power of attorney. Do it now, do it for your loved ones, gods forbid anything horrible happened, at least you are all prepared.
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