COVINGTON, Ind. – The Fountain County, Ind., Sheriff's Department is looking for a 19-year-old Schaumburg man, who went missing from his Chicago-area home several hours before his car was found abandoned in Indiana.
Sheriff William Sanders said Monday that one of his sergeants interviewed a witness, whom he identified as a female juvenile, who claims to have seen Kevin G. Heinl in Newtown, Ind., on Saturday night. The sergeant also recovered Heinl's cell phone from the girl.
The girl told police "someone walked up to her, said, 'Here's a cell phone,' and turned around and walked off," Sanders said. "Whether that actually happened or there's more to it, that's what we're delving into now."
Though family members originally thought he may have been in Danville, Ill., over the weekend, Danville police said they aren't involved in the search.
Heinl's family and friends have been searching for him since the afternoon of March 8 when they last saw him at his home, where he lives with his parents, said his sister-in-law Laura Heinl. She said her brother-in-law was supposed to start a new job at the Rainforest Cafe in Woodfield, Ill., that day but never showed up.
She said family members worry that her brother-in-law may have experienced a bipolar episode. She added that he has never been diagnosed with the illness, but a couple of relatives suffered from it.
"He's had some emotional problems," Laura Heinl said, adding family members alerted the police to that. "On (March 8), he was saying that he just wanted to get out of here and go to Miami. He was being really erratic and confusing. Later, (his parents) thought he was going to start his job. But then they got a call from the police in Indiana that they found his car in Fountain County."
Sanders said a deputy found a silver Honda Civic on the side of Indiana 341 in a rural area just north of Newtown. When he approached the car, it was vacant but still running, and the keys were in the ignition. The deputy also found a driver's license belonging to Kevin Heinl inside.
Sanders said authorities have searched for Kevin Heinl along roads, under bridges, in vacant buildings. He added that a police officer from Vermilion County, Ill. reported to the 911 dispatch center on Saturday night that he saw a young man, who matched the teen's description, walking along Indiana 25 in Tippecanoe County toward Lafayette.
"We're going to continue looking to see if he's out there," Sanders said, adding authorities continue to work the cell phone angle.
He said that one of his sergeants interviewed the juvenile after learning that she placed him in Newtown over the weekend. When they showed her Kevin Heinl's picture, she acknowledged seeing him on Saturday night.
Laura Heinl said when her brother-in-law's friends and family called or texted his cell phone, it was answered by a 14-year-old girl from Newtown. She said they originally were led to believe that the girl bought his cell phone from him in Danville.
"But she's changed her story," Laura Heinl said. "First she said she got it at a party, then found it on the street, then got it from a friend."
Laura Heinl said her brother-in-law is about 6-foot tall and weighs about 175 pounds. He has short brown hair and brown eyes, wears earrings and used to have a goatee, but recently shaved it for work.
She said he hasn't made any contact with his parents, girlfriend or other friends or relatives. She said he had about $200 in cash on him the day he disappeared, but that he doesn't have any credit cards. She also said the family believes he took his snowboard, Xbox, iPod docking station and possibly some other items to pawn.
She added that the family is worried and just wants to hear from him. "I feel like he probably feels like he's in trouble," she said. "We just hope he's safe, and we want him to come home."