Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2000

Few clues lead to missing man

October 12, 2000

Scotty Brezgiel keeps her cell phone with her at all times, anxiously waiting to get any news about her husband.

Some days are better than others, she said, but it's been three weeks since her husband, John Joseph Brezgiel, 73, of rural Tonganoxie, was last seen about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 19, leaving JCPenney at the Leavenworth Plaza.

"The hardest part is just not knowing what happened," she said.

At least three times a week, John Brezgiel drove by himself to see his "coffee buddies." Scotty left for work and John drove to Leavenworth the morning of his disappearance to meet a friend at the Plaza.

"While his friend, Joe, walked around the path there, he sat down on a bench and fell asleep," his wife said.

John and his friend later went to JCPenney to shop for an afghan, but didn't buy anything.

"Joe went out one way because he parked on the other side of the store and John went out another (exit)," Scotty said.

It was the last time anyone saw him.

The sheriff's department, Scotty, her family and friends have searched Leavenworth County and surrounding areas, but haven't found John or the blue-gray four-door 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra he drove.

"We thought he might have gone into a ditch along the road," Scotty said.

Sheriff's detectives received a tip of a possible sighting of Brezgiel's car in St. Joseph, Mo.

"A man, who we think is credible, saw a license's number matching (Brezgiel's) license's number last Friday, Oct. 6," said Det. Ron Ewert.

However, investigators weren't able to confirm the sighting and don't know if it was Brezgiel.

"We've had several calls to the tips hotline, but nothing significantly has changed," Brezgiel said.

Brezgiel, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease seven years ago, takes medication for rigidity and to keep him from hallucinating.

"Many people don't know that about people with Parkinson's," Scotty said.

Today, John would probably look unkempt, he would have a slumped-over posture and shuffled walk and he would be disoriented because he didn't have his medication with him.

John also didn't have a change of clothes or toiletries; his belongings weren't missing from the couple's home.

The sheriff's department has flown planes over the county in its effort to locate Brezgiel. Family members have contacted a psychic, who said John was in his car in a ditch somewhere.

Missing posters have been circulated throughout the metro area and CB radio handlers have been passing along information to truckers. The family has created a Web site to help in the search www.geocities.com/johnbrezgiel/missing/html.

The most positive piece of information the family has received came just more than two weeks ago, when a car fitting the Oldsmobile's description was seen in Lee's Summit, Mo.

"Neighbors saw the car parked by my son's driveway, but they didn't see John, and no one saw the car's license tag," Scotty said.

"Every good lead we've had is from the Lee's Summit area," she later added.

The car left the area before authorities could locate it.

John's driving to Lee's Summit makes sense to the family because he and his wife often went to visit their son.

"He could have become confused and drove down there," Scotty said.

The family has thought about foul play, but detectives don't think criminal activity is involved because no one has tried to access Brezgiel's bank accounts.

"We have no reason to suspect foul play because none of his credit cards have turned up, but we can't rule it out," Ewert said.

Brezgiel had cash, a debit card and a credit card with him when he went to Leavenworth. Commerce Bank in Bonner Springs has been monitoring the accounts, but no one has used the credit card or attempted to access the Brezgiels' checking account, Scotty said.

However, it also leads to the conclusion that Brezgiel may not be alive.

"He never liked to be without money in his pocket," his wife said. "He would have run out of money by now."

Scotty had given up hope the first weekend after John's disappearance, but she's regained some optimism.

"I try to remain positive, but it's been difficult," she said.

Brezgiel is 5-foot 8-inches tall, weighs 131 pounds, with blue eyes and blond hair. He was wearing a black short-sleeve polo shirt, tan slacks, white tennis shoes and a white K-Mart baseball hat.

He was last seen driving a blue-gray four-door 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra, with Leavenworth County, Kan., tags.

John Brezgiel's age has been reported as 73 and 74. He is actually 73 years old, but his driver's license says 74.

When John was a teen-ager, he lied about his age so he could enter the army.

"His mother signed the papers for him so he go into the military, and he had changed his birth date," Scotty said.

Consequently, government records show him as being a year older.

There's a $2,500 reward for information leading to Brezgiel's whereabouts. Anyone with information about Brezgiel's disappearance should call the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department at (913) 682-5724.

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