Six people still missing from Northeast Michigan | News, Sports, Jobs - The Alpena News
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Six people still missing from Northeast Michigan

Website lists oldest missing person case from 1983

Courtesy Photos Clockwise from top left are images of Mikel Schepke, Mary Allen, Mark Fox, Charles Rutherford Jr., Joseph Michael Gutierrez, and Lisa Knight provided by NamUs.gov.

ALPENA–Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the U.S. every year.

Many are found and make it home safely. But thousands of those missing don’t make it home.

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System — NamUs — is an online repository for stories of missing, unidentified, and unclaimed people that is accessible to law enforcement agencies and the public. Family members can contribute information about their loved ones and share the publicly viewable portion of the file with others through social media and news outlets.

NamUs lists 16,685 people missing in the country, as of Wednesday.

Of those, 586 are from Michigan.

Of those, six were last seen in Alpena, Alcona, Montmorency, or Presque Isle counties.

∫ Joseph Michael Gutierrez, of Detroit, was camping in Sanborn Township with his friend in September 1983 when he went missing. His friend’s body was found offshore in Lake Huron. Joey Guitierrez was never found. Police suspected the boys attempted to swim to an island and drowned.

∫ Charles Rutherford Jr. was last seen at the marina in Presque Isle in August 2005. His boat, a 27-foot white cabin cruiser named Sea’s Life, was located the following day, 10 miles from Mackinac Island, with the running motor in neutral. The body of Rutherford’s girlfriend was found several days later.

∫ Lisa Knight, a green-eyed strawberry blonde who would be 37 today, was last seen in Ossineke leaving a friend’s house on June 8, 2012. Her last known communication was a phone call made from her ex-husband’s home. Initially treated as a missing person incident, the case is now being investigated as a homicide.

∫ Mikel Schepke, a man with a tragic past that left him with mental disabilities, left on his daily walk from his home north of Rogers City on Nov, 10, 2013, and didn’t return. Extensive searches of area woods during harsh weather had to be suspended several days later because of the opening of deer hunting season. A renewed search the following spring, with K-9 units from multiple parts of the state, found nothing.

∫ Mary Allen was last seen on Jan. 22, 2015, when her brother dropped her off at her Alpena home. With gray hair and brown eyes, the 56-year-old was on prescription medication and was considered by police to be endangered.

∫ Mark Fox, a 50-year-old Alpena man with brown eyes, checked himself out of rehab in Waterford on June 15, 2019. He has not made contact with anyone or answered his cell phone since that date.

Missing persons or cold cases are left open and active, 1st Lt. John Grimshaw, commander of the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, said. The post recently made a push through the media to gain new information about the Knight case, assigning a cold case team to review the investigation, reinterview witnesses, and re-examine evidence in a case that has led police to follow up on nearly 150 tips from the Alpena area and beyond, from as far away as Europe.

At the state level, the Missing Persons Coordination Unit enables law enforcement agencies to work together with the public to find missing people, including providing training about the Amber Alert program that broadcasts urgent notifications to enlist a community’s assistance when a child is abducted or lost.

Too often in smaller or rural communities, resources for finding missing people might not be as accessible as in more urban areas, according to Todd Matthews, director of communications and outreach at NamUs.

NamUs offers law enforcement a tool that can develop investigative leads into missing person cases, even in smaller communities, and allows residents to learn about and possibly help find the lost.

“One missing person is too many,” Matthews said.

People who have information that may help find a missing person are urged to call the MSP-Alpena Post at 989-354-4101. Tips may also be recorded on the new MSP smartphone app, MSP Mobile. Information about Michigan’s 586 missing people, 316 unidentified remains, and 81 unclaimed people can be seen at namus.gov.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.

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