I gave all the information to the family and now it was in their hands to choose to bring the information to the authorities. Mike’s aunt wanted to go right out and solve the mystery of Mike’s death, but first, he had to be found. Mike told me they needed to find him quickly or it would be too late.
The following day, Mike’s aunt decided to go to the authorities to give them the information I had given her. She was hesitant to give the sheriff the source of her information. See, by this time, the local authorities had turned the investigation over to the state authorities. The two agencies were working together to find Mike. At this point in the investigation, they believed that Mike was still alive. When Mike’s aunt told them Mike was dead, this news piqued their curiosity.
The sheriff and the state investigators were intrigued to hear what Mike’s aunt had to say. Unfortunately, when pressured how she knew so much about Mike’s death, she hesitantly gave in and told them her source. The sheriff quickly dismissed her and advised Mike’s aunt not to get involved with the investigation. She did not like the sheriff’s attitude and did not take his advice.
Mike’s aunt took the information I gave her and began her own investigation. She went to the girlfriend’s home and asked questions. Mike’s aunt agreed with my findings that the girlfriend was somehow involved. She didn’t care for her and saw the change in her. She suspected drug use may be the cause. Mike’s aunt went to the girlfriend’s house a few times after that. Each time she went, the two men that I identified were there. Although, it wasn’t unusual for the black man I saw to be there, he was her family. It was unusual for the white man to be there. This made Mike’s aunt more suspicious.
Mike’s aunt took this information back to the sheriff. The sheriff again advised her not to get involved and in a patronizing tone told her, “We are going to find Mike.” Mike’s aunt knew the sheriff and his department was corrupt. She had seen it firsthand in other circumstances. She didn’t care. She was on a mission. Mike’s aunt trusted my findings and was going off what I told her because it was the only information anyone had provided.
Mike’s aunt decided to go to mile marker 18. By this time, the search for Mike had spanned out farther into the anchorage surrounding where they initially started their search. Mike’s aunt arrived at mile marker 18 and there were a group of people there searching for Mike. Her first thought was that the sheriff had listened to her and came down to mile marker 18.
There was commotion by the river’s edge. She immediately thought they found Mike. She slammed on the breaks, threw the truck into park, and jumped out. She was running toward the group of people when she was stopped by one of the state investigators. She asked, “Did you find him? Did you find Mike?”
The lead investigator came over to Mike’s aunt and told her, “No, we didn’t find him.” Mike’s aunt wanted them to keep looking but the investigator got angry with her and told her that if she doesn’t let them do their job, she would be arrested for obstructing the investigation. Mike’s aunt instantly became furious, and knew they were covering something up. She was escorted back to her truck, but as she was getting in, she saw the blue blanket on the ground near the riverbank. From where she was, she could tell the blanket was stained but couldn’t tell from what. She had her suspicions, and probably her answer.
A week had gone by and the sheriff and the state investigator came to Mike’s mother’s home to give her the news. They told her that they found a blanket that had blood on it. Mike’s mother asked, “Was the blanket blue?” The sheriff confirmed. “How did you know the blanket was blue?” he asked. Mike’s mother gave the sheriff a look, and the sheriff knew the answer. “You better tell your sister to back off or she will have trouble with the law. That goes for you and any other family.” When Mike’s aunt told me this, I knew this validated the information Mike told me about law enforcement in the area.
Through DNA testing, they found the blood on the blanket belonged to Mike. The sheriff also told her that the amount of blood on the blanket indicated that Mike was probably dead. The authorities would continue their search for a few more weeks to see if they could find him in the area. They could not find Mike or any further evidence, so the search was suspended. The authorities changed the case from a missing person to homicide.
I would check in with the family from time to time to see if there were any more updates. I followed the case online to see if there were any new developments. There was nothing. About six months after I did my reading, I was contacted by a lawyer who was also a documentarian. The lawyer was doing a documentary on Mike and his case and wanted to get my input. The lawyer set up a conference call between Mike’s family, me, and her.
I was in my office waiting to get on the call, but the call never came. I tried to contact Mike’s aunt, but she didn’t answer my call or respond to any of my texts. I also called the lawyer, and she didn’t return my calls either. I immediately knew something was wrong. I reached out to my family member to see if she had any answers. A month or so went by when my family member called to let me know the lawyer was told she couldn’t do the documentary. The sheriff told her it was an active case and if she didn’t stop her pursuit she too would be arrested for interfering with the investigation. After finding out this news, I was happy I didn’t talk to the lawyer after all.
Now a year has passed and there were no new developments. I called my family member and asked if she had heard anything new. Maybe I had a push from Mike, or it was pure coincidence, but that same day, a crew found the remains of a male in a shallow grave near the search area for Mike. It wasn’t confirmed the body found was his, but I knew it was. The body was discovered a year to the day of Mike’s disappearance.
Eventually, the medical examiner confirmed through DNA testing that the body found was Mike’s. His body was found approximately ten feet from where the search originally began. I told my sister that the to that killed Mike put the body in that location so he could be found. I asked if they were getting ready to do some planting of trees. My family member asked me, “Yes, why?”
When I heard the news of Mike being found, I began to sense an overwhelming feeling of guilt. I believe I was picking up guilt the two men had that killed Mike. The two men realized that they were lied to. Although they weren’t ready to confess, they wanted closure for the family, so they moved Mike’s body to an area where he would be found. The authorities confirmed he was moved there but had no other clues as to how or by whom.
Mike’s family was relieved he was found. They could properly bury him and formally begin their closure process. They still had many questions. They were assured by the authorities that this was still an active case. Mike’s aunt inquired if they were any closer to solving his murder and asked about the involvement of the two men I saw. She implied there something was wrong, seeing as one of the men involved was related to the sheriff. The authorities exasperated, “Just remember this is an active case and any involvement from you will get you into trouble.” The authorities’ reaction just reaffirmed Mike’s aunt’s suspicions.
Mike’s body was brought to the coroner to determine the cause of death. By now, Mike’s body was badly decomposed. He was still dressed in his blue shirt, jeans, and work boots. Other than his clothes, Mike was unrecognizable. Again, DNA determined that this was him. After a year-long wait, and I am sure a detailed examination was performed, the cause of death was revealed. Please keep in mind, I did not personally see the autopsy report. The findings were told to me by Mike’s aunt. Mike’s cause of death was due to exsanguination. The coroner reported Mike had been stabbed - once near his left side (there was a nick in the last rib) once (that probably killed him), near his mid-rib cage. The coroner also indicated that there was evidence of a recent skull fracture.
Unfortunately, Mike’s case is still open. His family is still searching for the killers. There has been a change in sheriffs and with this change, the family hopes to find the answers they are seeking.
This concludes my journey with Mike for now. I still check in from time to time to see if there are any updates from the family. I attempt to check in with Mike as well. Mike has been silent since he told me his story except when they found his body. Again, he reminded me that they took too long to find him. He was at ease now that his family can have some sort of closure.
The last time Mike and I communicated, he said, “I will check in on my daughter.” He continued to say, “If anyone harms her, they will answer to me.”