The Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri said they were again investigating the case of a missing man from Big Rapids Friday.
A postal worker near the city of Van Buren had spotted Fred Byrne’s car on a two-track trail on the outskirts of the Mark Twain National Forest.
The search has picked up from there.
“It’s king of hard to bump into somebody who’s not talking about it,” said Brad Beckstrand, Big Rapids resident.
The disappearance of Fred Byrne is the talk of the town in Big Rapids.
“Kind of shocked, how he ended up all the way in Missouri, kind of like what’s going on?” said Jennifer Mason, Big Rapids resident.
At the salon where Byrne’s son gets his hair cut, the employees and clientele feel for the family.
“It is odd it’s very close to home and to find out his son was coming here to get his hair done was odd, overwhelming,” said Jamie Smith, Big Rapids resident.
Investigators are digging into the latest clues in the case, Detective Brian Miller says now hat they have the car, they will ship it back to Michigan to process it for prints, DNA and other evidence.
“We are looking for a trailer of some sort so there’s not kind of contamination. Once brought back here, we will have the Michigan State Police Crime Lab process the vehicle for us,” said Miller.
Big Rapids detectives are also working with security officers at Rivertown Mall.
That’s where Fred Byrne told his mother and son he was going in order to buy his wife a Valentines Day gift.
They have been combing through security video to see if they can find Byrne’s Malibu the night he disappeared. So far, i hasn’t turned up in their parking lot cameras.
Detectives are also working with toll road officials in other states to see if they can spot the Malibu heading to Missouri.
“We’ve been in touch with the Illinois toll service looking for video of Mr. Byrne or his vehicle using the toll,” said Miller.
When Byrne left his house, his wife had given him $60. Detecives say hey found only $4 in the console of the car along with his keys and his wallet was on the back floor boards of the car wih an ID and gas card.
Police say there’s no reason for him to go to Missouri that they know of. They say he never vacationed there or had a family connection there. He wasn’t a hunter or outdoors enthusiast either, although he did have survival training when he served in the military.
Residents and police remain baffled.
“It seems to be a mystery that with the car and everything,” said Beckstrand.
Detectives say they’ll be able to get Byrne’s car in for processing in 24 to 48 hours.