Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Missing in Minnesota May 7, 2018



DURING A RECENT RESTROOM stop at a Redwood Falls convenience store, I paused to read notices tacked onto a bulletin board. There I saw a missing persons bulletin for Mato Dow. The 26-year-old was last seen in the early morning hours of October 13, 2017, in this southwestern Minnesota community. A quick online search showed he remains missing. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

That led me to wonder how many other Minnesotans are missing. The number shocked me. Eight-three. That’s according to information published on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website. In the Minnesota Missing and Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse section, the missing are snapshot profiled via photos, places and dates of disappearances, and current ages. (Click on individual names for more details.) Dow, for whatever reason, is not among those listed.

But familiar names from high profile missing persons cases are on that list. Cases I remember.

  • Corrine Erstad, missing from Inver Grove Heights in June 1992, current age 31
  • Georgia Smith, missing from Champlin in June 1999, current age 95
  • Josh Guimond, missing from Collegeville in November 2002, current age 35
  • Leanna Warner, missing from Chisholm in June 2003, current age 20
  • Brandon Swanson, missing from Marshall in May 2008, current age 29.

The body of Jacob Wetterling, Minnesota’s most high profile missing person, was found in September 2016, his killer then apprehended and imprisoned. Jacob’s case did much to raise awareness. I am thankful the Wetterling family finally got answers about their son. I only wish the results had been different.

But for 83 other missing persons, family and friends still don’t have those answers. That includes the oldest case listed, that of brothers Daniel, David and Kenneth Klein. The three left their home on November 10, 1951, for Fairview Park in Minneapolis, never to be seen again. Can you imagine? I can’t. Those “boys” would now be in their seventies.

The most recent entry (as of Friday, May 4) is for Tawhna Pringle, 31, who disappeared from the Babbitt area on January 11, 2018.

From every corner of Minnesota—from Worthington to Winona to Warren to Chisholm and places in between—people have vanished. Disappeared. Gone. The list also includes several gone missing in other states.

Eighty-three. Kids. Teens. Adults.

To not know what happened to your loved one has to be the most unimaginable pain. I’d encourage you to take the time today to click here and scroll through those 83 missing persons profiles. Even if you live outside Minnesota. All it takes is one person somewhere to share information that could help solve a case and provide answers for loved ones.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Missing in Minnesota”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    It always tugs at my heart when I hear a report of a missing person. We have had our fair share around here and last year in particular I got drawn into one case that involved a fugitive who had been on a crime spree, hid out in our local forest and had taken a man’s truck. It took awhile but they finally found his body and eventually captured the perpetrator but it was heart breaking and occupied the news for weeks. While not all disappearances have a criminal element to them that made this one all the worse because it was a needless crime. Praying for all families today who have loved ones missing.

  2. valeriebollinger Says:

    What an interesting list…it sure make one wonder what happened to all these people…so sad for the families.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Here is another resource National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

    The National Institute of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records. NamUs is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public from all over the country in hopes of resolving these cases.

  4. Jackie Says:

    83….wow. So many gone missing, so many left behind to wait and wonder. It’s that “not knowing” that would be the hardest. I plan to go and look at those faces, you’re right it only takes one person to recognize a missing person and maybe make a difference….. I think of Elizabeth Smart.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I can’t imagine anything more heartbreaking than not having the answers to where your loved ones are.

  6. Lorna Dow Says:

    Im one of the mothers that cry everyday .. because my son hasn’t been found yet! it’s been the most hardest 2 years without him! I just wish someone would point out where his body is.. let me find some closure! His kids miss him just as much as me everyday! life without him has been hard for all of our family! We do have a BCA with a open investigator on file for him! with the power of prayer we find his remains!

    • Lorna, I am deeply sorry for the pain and loss you are experiencing as your son, Mato, remains missing. As the mother of three, my heart breaks for you. Your determination to find your son, to get answers, is evident in your words. I pray you get those answers and find Mato. I’m thankful the investigation remains. I join you in praying for closure.

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