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Ken Mohler is an easy-going man with a can-do attitude, according to his boss and co-workers at Gregory Wood Products.
The 70-year-old night-shift maintenance supervisor has been with the company a long time. He seemed to get along with everyone and was always fair to the five men who worked under him, said Cecil Gregory, owner of the lumber mill located at Catawba County’s EcoComplex at the Blackburn Landfill.
Mohler went to work to fix a water line leak at the company’s site off Rocky Ford Road just after 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon. He finished the job, picked up a paycheck, told his wife he was coming home then disappeared.
Now, more than four days later, Catawba County Sheriff’s Department investigators are talking with family and friends to try to determine what happened to the military veteran.
“Right now we are interviewing the family and the friends to try to get a more comprehensive look at his habits and where he goes and what he does and that kind of thing,” said Catawba County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Joel Fish. “We don’t know where he is.”
Fish said Mohler went to work Thursday afternoon, then at about 7:30 p.m., texted his wife and told her he would be home in about an hour.
“About 8:05 he notified his boss man that he fixed the leak and said he was going home,” Fish said. “He never showed up at the house.”
On Friday, Gregory Wood Products employees started looking for Mohler. Robin Miller told The O-N-E he saw Mohler about 5 p.m. Thursday when the night-shift worker picked up his paycheck and went back out to his truck.
Miller was first to find Mohler’s Ford Ranger on the company’s site, and when he did he said he knew something was wrong. The driver’s side window was still open.
“They were looking around for him,” Fish said, “and tried calling him on his work cell phone. They heard the phone ringing and realized it was covered with dirt along with his keys.”
Fish said the keys and phone weren’t exactly buried, but they were beside the truck as if someone had kicked dirt over them in a scuffle or a machine passing by knocked dirt on to them. Either way, the ringing phone on the ground caught Miller’s attention, and he said as soon as he spotted Mohler’s personal items, he backed away from the truck and called police.
“As soon as I saw his stuff on the ground, I got an eerie feeling,” Miller said.
To read more of this story, pick up the weekend print edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.