More than a month after 50-year-old Robert Hoagland vanished without a trace, his wife Lori says she still has no idea where her husband could be -- or how to account for a host of mysteries surrounding his disappearance.
"We just don't know," she says. "We don't know if he ran away, if he was abducted, if he had a nervous breakdown ... We're just looking to get his face out there so someone could say, 'Hey, I saw that guy'."
Throughout August, Lori has been hard at work. Her friends helped her set up a search team. They've appeared in every local media source. Posters are plastered in businesses across Newtown. (They'll hand out flyers at Monday's Labor Day Parade.) But not one mystery has been solved, and Lori says she couldn't even begin to guess where Robert may be, or what could have happened to him.
The first reports from the Newtown Police Department indicated Robert was last seen at Newtown Mobil Station, but Lori has made sure local media have the updated information through a statement she wrote late last week. The details of the statement paint a nearly surreal picture.
A Mysterious Absence
On the morning of Sunday, July 28, Hoagland drove his silver VW Golf to pick up bagels at Bagel Delight and put half a tank of gas in his car at Newtown Mobil. A few hours later, he ate breakfast with his son Max, mowed the lawn -- and disappeared. He apparently left behind his shoes, his phone, his car, his passport and his blood pressure medication. (More than two weeks later, Lori found his wallet and keys hidden under a doll on a chair in their bedroom.)
Lori had been on the way home from a 17-day trip abroad. She'd expected her husband to pick her from the airport the next day.
"I texted him a couple of times when I landed at JFK around 4:00 p.m., but never got a reply," she said in a statement. "I tried phoning his cell, but again, no answer. Still, this happens with him frequently. His phone loses juice and he is unreachable. I figured he had simply gotten caught in traffic and would appear soon enough."
But he never came to pick her up.
Since then, nothing. Newtown police are hard at work in the investigation, she says. They meet about once a week, working together to think of ideas and pursue leads. They tell her they're following every possible lead and pursuing every possible angle. And she believes them.
"I wish there were more to report," she says. "But there's just nothing. Any lead the police have been excited about has turned out to be a dead end. He seems to just have completely vanished. But we continue."
The Search Continues
Lori is stepping up efforts to find her husband this week. With some help from her friends, she's been busy calling multiple media outlets in the area, posting flyers and launching a social media campaign through a Facebook page called "Help Us Find Hoagy."
"It feels like the logical thing to do is to put his face out that way as much as possible. I don't really use Facebook, but we're using it to the extent we can to get the message out as far-reaching as possible. I'm hoping for it to go viral. If there's Patches everywhere, we can get his picture everywhere. He could be in Connecticut, he could be in California."
"It depends on the moment," she says. She's relying on her friends -- not only as part of the "search party," but for moral support as the days go by. They'll go to the beach, stay in and watch movies, or whatever's necessary to keep her spirits up.
A culinary teacher at Newtown High School, she's been able to find happiness and comfort in her work since the beginning of the school year.
"School is a welcome distraction, and I love the kids," she said. "When I'm surrounded by people who have that kind of energy, it's a great place for me to be. Even more so now. But it can be rough."
Over the weekend, she was looking at her husband's photo a lot -- sending it out to media outlets, making flyers or posting on Facebook.
"And every time I saw his picture, my heart would break."
To follow the search or contact Lori, follow Help Us Find Hoagy on Facebook. Anyone with additional information should contact Det. McAnaspie or Det. Frank at the Newtown Police Department at 203-426-5841.