Family of missing man continues search

Chris Dunham

October 8, 2012

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

A Scioto County man has reportedly been missing for two weeks and now a friend of the family and the man’s grandfather have come directly to the news media asking for help.

According to Matt Humble, James Laack, 35, of Swauger Valley, was missing for two weeks when his car was found in the Scherer’s Hollow area, about a mile-and-a-half behind a steel gate. Humble said the property owner first located the vehicle, found identification and called around and tried to locate the proper authority to report it. Humble’s grandfather, Carl Laack, said the car he was driving belongs to his (James Laack) father.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be two weeks ago that he went to work out at Taylor Lumber,” Humble said. “He left at noon. And he has not been seen since. I’ve been involved in this from the very beginning. About 15 of us yesterday (Sunday) were on four wheelers, and probably 10 people walking. We searched the whole area.”

Carl Laack says he went missing on a Monday two weeks ago.

“He went to work on that Monday (Sept. 24) and at lunch break, he just took off,” Laack said. “They thought he was going out for lunch, which was very unusual, because he never did, and he took off and nobody has seen him since.

The case took a turn last week when Laack’s vehicle was located.

“The car appeared Tuesday,” Humble said. “And he thought somebody got stuck. The car had been reported stolen. The man who found the car called Carl and Carl called me, and I went up there Saturday morning and found the car and called the Sheriff’s Department and they came and took pictures and confiscated the car to do testing tomorrow (Tuesday) because today is a holiday.”

Carl Laack said the man who found the car waited and no one came. He entered the car, found James Lack’s license and called Carl Laack.

Scioto County Sheriff’s detective Dan Malone responded to the scene over the weekend and began an investigation, eventually following up on an important lead on Monday.

“We reviewed the videos of the receipt that was found outside the vehicle,” Malone said. “The video was the missing person. He was alone. He sat in his vehicle for 45 minutes before he came in the store. He went straight and purchased a bottle of vodka with cash and left. So the family’s friend, Matt Humble is thinking more now that it’s probably going to be just looking for their loved one.”

Meanwhile, Carl Laack said people have searched the wooded area three or four times.

“It’s nothing but 150 acres or so and it’s mainly woods and ravines,” Laack said. “And he (the owner) told me that, if anybody falls over one of them ravines and breaks a leg, they would never get out.”

That has not kept friends from searching for him in that area.

Carl Laack said the authorities can’t get down into the ravines.

“That’s a rough area up there, The trees and the valleys,” Scioto County Sheriff’s Captain David Hall said Monday. Hall also said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation has been called in to process the vehicle, which has been towed to the Sheriff’s Office.

Several things about the missing man concern his family and friends.

“He had no money. He had access to a bank account that had plenty of money in it,” Humble said. “And he had a paycheck that he never picked up. He was missing Tuesday and could have gotten his paycheck Thursday and he never picked it up. He has no money on him at all. His wallet and everything was found in the car.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com