**Scroll down for updates**
For the last week or so, hundreds of people have been involved in the search for Nick Steward, a missing husband and father from Lake Villa, IL. You can read my first post about Nick’s disappearance HERE. It’s a truly puzzling and heartbreaking case – a husband on his way home from work seemingly disappears without a trace.
Today, the admins of the Help Find Nick Steward Facebook Page updated the timeline for the night Nick disappeared, as well as clarified some details that had been confused earlier. Below is taken directly from the page:
Friday, September 20
5:00 PM: Nick left work at his normal quitting time to head home to Lake Villa, IL. The workday was uneventful per his boss and co-workers. Nick is a Laser Applications Engineer at MC Machinery in Wood Dale, IL. Shortly after he left work, Nick sent a text message to his wife saying that he had just left work and was on his way home. This is part of Nick’s normal routine. He also called his parents to check in with them as well. This was a very brief call and he ended with saying his cell phone battery was almost dead. Nick is very close to his family and this was also a typical phone call. They spoke daily.
5:28 PM: Nick’s boss, who travels the same route home and was about to leave work, called Nick to check on the traffic, asking if he should take another route. If you routinely drive in the Chicago area during rush hour, you’d realize this would not be out of the ordinary. On the brief call, Nick told him that traffic was light and clear, and he should take the normal route home.
Clarification of the cell phone ping that evening:
Nick’s cell phone registered a “ping” at 5:28pm from alongside the toll way at 2700 South River Road in Des Plaines. This indicated that the phone had received a signal. Please note that this ping occurred at 5:28pm Chicago time, which was indicated as 10:28pm GMT on the report received from the cell phone company. The time zone was incorrectly interpreted earlier, and we’d like to clarify this now, as it has been repeated often as an indication that Nick got off the highway and spent time in that area. This ping coincided with the phone call from his boss regarding traffic conditions. Therefore, there is no indication that he exited the highway at Touhy Avenue or used his cell phone since.
5:28 PM: Immediately after the call, Nick passed through the express lanes (which do not allow a vehicle to exit at Touhy Avenue) of the northbound Touhy Avenue toll plaza, as registered by his I-Pass transponder. Nick does not pass any other tolls on his regular route home, and his I-Pass transponder has not been used since.
That was the last contact of any kind received from Nick.
His normal route home would be: Northbound I-294 to the Grand Avenue exit in Gurnee, then west to Lake Villa, via various side street routes. This route, and possible alternatives, was the primary search area on Sunday’s massive search.
The Facebook update also talks about the search efforts being done thus far to locate Nick, and they’re quite detailed and extensive – from checking the family’s bank accounts before and after Nick went missing to helicopter searches of the route he usually took home from work. There are still NO clues to his whereabouts. How can a man simply just vanish?
There’s a fund raising account that has been set up, if you’re interested in making a donation. According to the Facebook page, the money will be used for a reward offer, search efforts, and to help pay for the expenses of Nick’s wife and young son. You can donate at: http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/find-nick-steward/92020.
I’ll continue following this case and will post updates as they come in.
UPDATE: 10/3/13 9:01 AM
People have been asking questions over the last week or so on Facebook and other sites, about Nick’s disappearance. The Facebook page admin has compiled a list of answers to those questions. I have copied and pasted the new update below:
- There were no guns in the house, so none are missing.
- Nick’s passport and birth certificate are at home, right where they should be.
- Nick did not have a cell phone charger in his car. He had an iPhone 4 and the contract was set to expire in November. He was planning to buy an iPhone 5 at that time. His iPhone 4 car charger broke, and he decided not to buy a new one because it would not work with the new iPhone 5 he’d be getting in another month or so.
- Nick’s boss and co-workers have been interviewed extensively by the police to their satisfaction. I don’t know the details, but nobody from work is suspect in this case. All have been cooperating fully.
- There are no images of Nick’s car from the toll way. The authorities have explained that the images are only snapped when something has activated the cameras. This would be a car that went through without a transponder (to catch the license plate), or activated by law enforcement for a period of time, such as an emergency response or a police chase. So it’s not that his car didn’t go through, it’s that no images were recorded at the time his transponder registered at the Touhy toll plaza.
- All camera footage along his entire route home has been reviewed. This includes toll way cameras, red light cameras, etc. It also includes security footage from any private companies (gas stations, convenient stores, etc.) that law enforcement thought could lead to any new info. No sign of Nick or his car.
UPDATE: 10/3/13 5:52 PM
The Lake & McHenry County Scanner Facebook Page just posted that Nick’s car has been found in the area of 955 Westmoreland Drive in Vernon Hills, IL. This is not far from where his parents live. There are apparently no signs of foul play, and Nick has not been located yet.
I’ll post updates as they come out.
UPDATE: 10/3/13 7:20 PM
Investigators are now searching the fields next to where the car was found and apparently many different departments are involved in this search. News crews have arrived also.