Trail grows cold in search for missing Brice Prairie man

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:10:43 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 16 2013 06:55:17 PM CST
BRICE PRAIRIE, Wis. -- -

It's been nearly four months since a Brice Prairie man went missing, leaving no signs of where he might be.

He left behind a wife and three kids.

While investigators are running out of leads, his family is struggling to cope with all their unanswered questions.

Dave Schroeder, 45, went missing on Sept. 22.

At first, investigators believed he may have hopped on a train near his home or hitchhiked a ride.

But their leads have come up with no answers, leaving both investigators and Schroeder's family wondering if they'll ever really know what happened.

"It never leaves my mind," said Schroeder's wife, Karla Schroeder.

Not a moment goes by that Karla Schroeder doesn't feel the pain of missing her husband.

"It's been 116 days. It's almost been four months," said Schroeder. "There really hasn't been any leads as far as anyone who's seen him, and I have a really hard time understanding how a man that's 6 foot 5 inches, 300 pounds went missing, and no one along County Z had seen him walking at the time."

Dave Schroeder walked away from his home at about 2 in the afternoon on Sept. 22,  leaving his keys, cellphone and wallet behind.

Karla Schroeder says he had been depressed the last couple of days, due in part to the pressures of taking care of their son with special needs.

A police report says he was intoxicated at the time.

It also alleges he was out drinking all the night before and had run-ins with employees at Hooters and Walmart.

The lead investigator in the case says it could have played a role in why he left.

"My feeling is that he left despondent about his life situation," said Sgt. Mark Yehle with the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department.  

After months of searching and following up leads, the trail is growing cold.

"We haven't really received any new leads," said Yehle.

It leaves Karla Schroeder with the difficult task of how to move forward with so many unanswered questions.

"What's really hard for me is I'm trying to decide in my mind as his wife, am I now a grieving widow, or am I a hopeful person that he's going to come back, or am I supposed to be angry that he left us?" said Schroeder.

While Karla grieves for her husband, she must also watch her children grieve for their dad.

"My son and his fiancee are going to be having a baby, and Dave doesn't know that he's going to be a grandpa. That's going to be very hard on all of us. My 13-year-old tries very hard to be strong, and my youngest son has disabilities, and that has been very hard on all of us," said Schroeder.

Schroeder says the community has been an incredible support to her and her family during this difficult time.

She says she lost her job when Dave Schroeder went missing but was recently rehired.

Anyone with information on where Schroeder might be is urged to call the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department at 608-785-9629.