Pennsylvania man missing during planned trip to OhioWritten by Morgan Delp | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The abandoned rental car of Jonathan Elwell, 44, of Shillington, Pa., was found off of Highway 30 in Crawford County, Iowa, on April 20.
Since then, police have been trying to locate Elwell, who rented the car near his home on April 14 for a planned trip to Ohio, said his sister, Joy Elwell, of Tioga, Pa.
“When he rented the car, he told (the rental company) he was going to Ohio,” Ms. Elwell said. “He didn’t say where in Ohio.”
“His mother grew up in Ohio, so there are ties back to Ohio,” said Linda Neff, Mr. Elwell’s first cousin from Milwaukee, Wis. “His maternal grandparents are buried in Ohio, so it would make sense for him to go there. … But he was several states west of Ohio.”
Mr. Elwell rented the car because he traveled around Shillington by bike and didn’t own a vehicle, Ms. Elwell said. The car was found locked, with his clothing and belongings inside and his bicycle in the trunk.
“It was normal for Jonathan to bring a bike when he came and visited us,” said Ms. Elwell, who lives about three and a half to four hours north of Mr. Elwell. “He would ride the bike once he got here and wouldn’t drive the car.”
Mr. Elwell rented the car in Reading, Pa., a town near his home, and scheduled to return it on April 21. Someone thinks they saw him in Shillington on April 17, but it has not been confirmed, Ms. Elwell said. The last place Mr. Elwell’s whereabouts are known is Carroll County, Iowa, on April 18, Neff said.
“That was the last time a purchase was made,” Neff said. “A receipt was found in the rental vehicle. There is surveillance tape from the convenience store of that transaction.”
There has been no activity on credit or debit cards since then, and nobody has been able to reach him by cell phone, which was not found in the car, Ms. Elwell said.
“He is a single man, he was on holiday from his job, he was taking a driving trip,” Neff said. “All of his bills were paid, all of his rent was paid through May 15. He was supposed to report back to work on the 27th (of April).”
Mr. Elwell worked out of his apartment for a company that does phone surveys, Neff said.
Neff and her husband helped a team of volunteers (Star 1) search the area around and north of where the car was found in western Iowa on May 12. The group consisted of nine people and two specially trained cadaver dogs, led by Sheriff Jim Steinkuehler of Crawford County. The Crawford County Police have been working with the Shillington Police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation on this case, Neff said.
“The sheriff in Crawford County has gone above and beyond,” Neff said. “He has been a real God-send to our family.”
While Mr. Elwell was not found in the search, Neff said that the “searchers last weekend were another piece of the puzzle and another stone we are turning over.” Neff, Ms. Elwell and all other family members and friends have made it their mission “to turn over every single stone there is,” Neff said.
Currently, police are investigating the possibility of Mr. Elwell’s connection with The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, which is a seven-day bicycle race in Iowa that occurs every year. Officials are trying to find out if Mr. Elwell had participated in this race in the past, since he was such an avid bicyclist, Neff said.
“It’s difficult to get information,” Neff said. “The RAGBRAI organization cannot release names of who participated last year.”
Ms. Elwell said that because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, it is difficult to retrieve information about Mr. Elwell possibly being at a hospital somewhere.
“Any information, no matter how insignificant, can help,” Ms. Elwell said. “(Jonathan’s) mother … wants to know where her baby is.”
If anyone has any information regarding Jonathan Elwell, who is described as being 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and balding with blue eyes and acne scarring, they are asked to contact the Crawford County Sheriff’s office at (712) 263-2146.