Police baffled by disappearance of elderly man last seen in Yorkville
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org September 17, 2013 8:19PM
Eugene Jonsson / photo from Arlington Heights police
Updated: October 19, 2013 7:27PM
There are plenty of people deeply troubled by the disappearance of an elderly Arlington Heights man, last seen in the Kendall County area Aug. 23.
I have received several calls from Fox Valley residents who, as it closes in on a month since 84-year-old Eugene Jonsson was reported missing, are still scouring parking lots in the off chance they’ll spot his gray 2004 Buick LeSabre bearing the vanity plate JONS507.
I’ve spoken several times with Arlington Heights Police, including Detective Andrew Blevins, who told me Tuesday he’s troubled and baffled by this case, which doesn’t seem to make much sense.
“The strangest part is there has not even been a sighting of his car, even with those vanity plates,” said the detective. “It is such a mystery, almost unbelievable.”
Jonsson — described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 190 pounds with gray, thinning hair and blue eyes — left his home around 8 p.m. Aug. 22 when he told his wife he was going to a restaurant for carry-out, according to his son, Dave Jonsson of South Elgin.
His father was spotted after midnight at a Speedway gas station when he asked a Yorkville police officer for directions to Ogden Avenue and Route 59 in Naperville.
The Arlington Heights police found that out because the Yorkville officer ran the old man’s vanity plates after he spoke with him, and it showed up in the system when they entered his information soon after Jonsson was reported missing.
Police in both towns told me it’s fairly routine these days to run the plates of anyone they come into contact with. Hart said they will run as many as 100 in a day.
“They like to know who they are talking to,” said Blevins of the patrol officers. And in this case, it was a good thing the Yorkville cop ran Jonsson’s plates because it gave Arlington Heights an idea of where the missing man had been.
Unfortunately, that seems to be the only real lead police have about Jonsson’s disappearance. In spite of newspaper and television coverage, in spite of the Silver Alert put out nationally for missing seniors, in spite of the efforts of family, friends and perfect strangers, there have not been any new clues other than a few unconfirmed sightings.
Yorkville Police Chief Richard T. Hart said there was nothing suspicious about Jonsson when he spoke with the Yorkville officer. The elderly man was not acting confused or disoriented. It’s not unusual, however, for older people to get lost in the Kendall County area, said the chief, adding that “it used to happen a lot more than it does now, for some reason.”
Hart recalled an encounter 20 years ago when an old man from the Macomb area somehow found his way to Yorkville after leaving his house to get a haircut. Hart said he was able to get in touch with the man’s wife through his identification. He put him up at a hotel for the night and, with the wife’s permission, sent him on his way home the following morning.
“She called me a few hours later,” the chief said, “to tell me he made it.”
Like the Arlington Heights police, Hart and his officers are also baffled by the disappearance of the old man and hope foul play is not involved. Blevins said the national alerts have not provided any leads, and there’s no activity on the elderly man’s charge cards.
No one, of course, is more disturbed than the family. Dave Jonsson’s mother, who has some medical issues and has to use a walker, went back to Kansas City with his sister to await any news. Jonsson said he searched the roads in question himself in the days following his father’s disappearance. But after so much time, the options run out.
“All the scenarios go through your mind,” he said. “Was he kidnapped? Did he go off the road somewhere? Is he in a hospital? You can guess all day, but it doesn’t do any good.”
And so all anyone can do is wait. And hope.
“It’s all a little unreal,” added the son.
If you have any information about the case, call the Arlington Heights Police Department Criminal Investigation Bureau at 847-368-5348; after hours, 847-368-5300.