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Missing man's mom wants justice

Cary Ashby • May 20, 2011 at 1:25 PM

The suspected murder of Michael A. Sheppard 11 years ago remains unsolved.

His mother, Rosalie Gottwald, of Milan, wants justice.

"I want prosecution without Michael's body," the 60-year-old woman said.

Gottwald is frustrated because, in her words, "nothing's been done with his case."

"With all this information they have, there's no reason they can't move ahead without his body," she said.

Her son was last seen alive May 8, 2003 in Huron County. The Perkins Township man was 35 at the time when he was believed to be shot.

"After eight years, I believe I've gone through all the stages of grief. It has turned into frustration without there being justice or finding his body," his mother said.

There was a seven-day search for Sheppard's remains at Rattlesnake Creek last year.

Members of Texas EquuSearch (TES) -- an all-volunteer search and recovery team -- the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I), Central Ohio K-9 Search and Rescue, Underground Imaging from New York and Team Waters Sonar Imaging from Illinois set up shop there starting April 29, 2010. BCI&I agents contacted TES 10 days earlier, requesting assistance in recovering Sheppard's body.

The crew left that area, which is just inside Huron County near the Erie County line, May 5, 2010 after having searched five different areas of water using sonar.

It's believed that TES, BCI&I, the Huron and Erie county sheriff's offices, Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler's office and the Perkins Township and Huron police departments are involved in a joint investigation.

Authorities, however, have declined to say much, if anything, about the probe.

Leffler declined to comment or answer any questions Thursday.

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard couldn't be reached for comment. Last year, the sheriff would only say that several agencies have been involved in a "long-term investigation."

Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth, the spokesman for his department, confirmed there is a joint investigation. He referred further questions to Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter, who couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

"We are part of an ongoing investigation. It's a multi-agency investigation," Sigsworth said.

TES founder and director Tim Miller, who grew up in Milan, was asked last year about the search for Sheppard.

When asked why the crew set up at Rattlesnake Creek, Miller said Sheppard was last seen "very close" to that area. He estimated it was less than a mile away and said the team searched near water based on "different bits of information" that had been received. Miller didn't elaborate.

Sheppard's mother has said she suspected her son was buried "very close to the Milan area."

"I believe he was murdered in Huron County," Gottwald said in 2010.

Anyone with information about the Michael Sheppard case is encouraged to call one of the following agencies: TES at (281) 309-9500, the Huron County Sheriff's Office at (419) 663-2828, the Erie County Sheriff's Office at (419) 625-7951 or BCI&I at (419) 353-5601 ext. 306.

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