A website revives the Calumet case | News, Sports, Jobs


Lawrence and Patty Heikell hold a photo of then-missing 11-year-old Karl Heikell, who disappeared on Halloween in 1981. The search continued for almost a year after Karl disappeared before some of Karl’s remains were found in October 1982. (Photo courtesy of Halloween 1981 and the Daily Mining Gazette)

By RANDY CROUCH

newspaper editor

MARQUETTE – When 11-year-old Karl Heikell of Calumet disappeared on Halloween in 1981, it sparked a nearly year-long search for the boy that didn’t stop until October the following year. when Heikell’s remains were found near his home in the Centennial Heights neighborhood of Calumet. While Heikell’s search lasted just under 12 months, questions surrounding what happened to the boy have lingered for over 40 years.

Recently, a website operated by local native Dillon Geshel shed new light on the case with an extensive collection of documents, maps and stories from the fateful hours before Heikell disappeared on Halloween.

Geshel learned about the case about 10 years ago while working at the Houghton Public Library.

“Another staff member told me this story he heard from a client. The boss had bought a property somewhere in the Centennial Heights area in Calumet and they had this ghost story that they were chasing in the woods and they could hear this boy crying. said Geshel. “They came to the library to see if anything had ever happened to the property and long story short they learned by going to the Michigan Tech archives about this missing person case where a boy had gone missing and then found died near his property. So it interested me because I thought it sounded made up.

Geshel then examined the story to see what he could find.

“The archives keep a vertical file on all the missing people in UP which has things like newspaper clippings and of course there was this story about this 11-year-old boy who went missing in the area,” said Geshel. “For a few years I had this story in my head and I decided one day to see if I could ask the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) police reports on this case to find out more about it. Then I read these reports, filled with curiosity, and over the years talked about them with friends.

While Geshel had known about the story for some time, it was only last year that he decided to set up the website to publicize the still unsolved case.

“Last year I decided to go public with the information about the case because it’s such a shame that no one knows what happened or has ever solved it,” said Geshel.

One of the biggest mysteries in the case concerns Heikell’s whereabouts on the day of his disappearance and the days following.

On Halloween, Heikell told his father he was going for a walk. This was the last time he would be confirmed to have been seen alive. The next morning, Heikell’s parents called the police to report that he had not returned home the previous night.

This sparked a search for Heikell which involved a search party of local volunteers, tracking dogs and helicopter and plane overflights which failed to locate Karl.

“From the information we had at the time, one of the things I remember from the interviews was that Karl was really scared of the woods,” said Robert Ball, a retired Michigan State Police officer who worked on the Heikell case in the years after his disappearance. “It’s not something he would have done. Goes out on Halloween night and doesn’t come back. It didn’t seem reasonable to me for this kid to walk away on his own.

Ball came to the case a few years after Karl’s disappearance, at which time the case was reclassified as homicide.

“When I arrived (at Michigan State Police’s Calumet Station), the case had been filed as a missing persons case. I looked very closely at the information we had and I was convinced it was a homicide, said Ball. “Cases like these aren’t closed, they’re solved.”

In early October the following year a local bird hunter found clothing and after contacting the police bone and hair fragments were found less than a mile from Karl’s house , an area that would have been well searched over the following days after his disappearance.

“What we know from the reports is not very precise, but there are different pieces of information that identify the location,” said Geshel. “There are a few instances where witnesses interviewed by the police mention groups of children who saw Karl in the woods that day,”

Although there was never an arrest, or even a confirmed suspect in the case, police had their eyes on at least one individual during the investigation.

“I had worked on an individual who looked like a potential suspect,” said Ball. “I felt good enough to bring him in and interview him. I got the guy and he interviewed well. Then I gave him a polygraph and he agreed right away. He was honest about it. other things he did wrong but claimed no knowledge in Karl’s case and the polygraph showed he was not misleading I remember looking at other possible suspects but this is everything they ended up being: “possible” suspects.

Other people in the community have other ideas and theories about what happened to Karl, including the involvement of a 17-year-old man from Karl’s neighborhood who committed suicide about a year after Karl disappeared. Carl.

While the truth about what happened to 11-year-old Karl Heikell may never be known, interest in the case is high, thanks in part to the work done by Geshel.

“It started out as just curiosity about it, but releasing the information about it publicly hopefully generates interest. Maybe someone knows something and can come forward,” said Geshel. “But also maybe it prompts the state police to start actively investigating again because it’s an open case but they haven’t produced a report on it in over 35 years.”

The website can be visited at www.halloween1981.com.

If anyone has any information regarding Karl Heikell’s disappearance, they are encouraged to contact Det. sergeant. Cleary of the Michigan State Police’s Calumet station at 906-337-5145.

Randy Crouch can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rcrouch@miningjournal.net.



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