Patti Krieger was 65-years-old when she vanished from the Sauk Mountain Trail in 2010. While disappearances of lone hikers are sadly not uncommon, Patti wasn't alone. In fact, she was with six other people as well as her faithful Rottweiler, Bear. They all made it off of that mountain. Patti, meanwhile, is still nowhere to be found.
Among the other people in the group were Patti’s boyfriend, 42-year-old Larry Pressley, a relative of his, Troy Robinson, Robinson’s girlfriend, Nichole Gardner, and three other relatives of Larry. They had headed to the mountain that day to scatter the ashes of Larry’s parents, but after the ceremony, they said Patti had separated herself from the group, going down a different trail along with Bear. They said that they had called out to her to ask her where she was going, but that for whatever reason, she didn’t respond. Assuming the trails would join together again at some point, the group carried on without her. It was four hours later when Larry reported Patti missing, after stopping off for some burritos and beer.
It wasn’t until Patti didn’t turn up for work the next day, however, that any of her family realised something was wrong. Her co-workers got in touch with her son, who went over to his mother’s house to find out where she was. It was then that he discovered Patti and her dog had disappeared the night before, although strangely, the hiking group were in possession of her phone, car keys and ID.
A search of Sauk Mountain was launched by police that included the use of a helicopter and infrared cameras, but they didn’t turn up any clues. Patti’s son, co-workers and friends continued to search by foot, although the sheriff believed that she was no longer on the mountain - dogs had tracked her scent down to the car park at the bottom of the trail. Twenty six days after their search began, Bear was discovered wandering a nearby mountain road. But there was still no sign of Patti.
Larry and his friends had been living at Patti’s house, and her family soon heard sightings of Larry driving around in her luxury cars. They went over to the residence, but Larry wouldn’t let them in, so they eventually got a court order to gain access to her home. Once inside, they found it trashed; beers cans everywhere, her safe emptied.
Naturally, suspicions began to turn towards Larry. Prior to meeting him, Patti had been married to a successful real estate investor, Jason Graham, who passed away in 2006. Jason was an associate of Larry’s, who got wind of his passing while he was serving time in prison. Upon his release he got in touch with Patti, and said that Jason had asked him to take care of her should anything ever happen.
Patti soon fell for his charms, although their happy union didn't last long. She told co-workers about his short temper, and of finding a gun as well as a stash of marijuana hidden behind a wall in her home. She also told friends that the pair didn't have a physical relationship because Larry was impotent, although it later transpired he was sleeping with several other women, and even ended up getting one pregnant.
Less than one year after Patti vanished, Larry married Dawnica Mejia-Lard. Police came to search their house after Larry was arrested for assaulting a police officer, where they found drugs and a number of stolen weapons, including one that belonged to a homicide victim. It wasn't Larry's first time in trouble with the law. He had more than 30 previous convictions. Nevertheless, Larry plead guilty to his charge and was sentenced to three years in prison, while Dawnica, his new wife, took the rap for the other charges. She was sentenced to twelve years.
Dawnica handed over her power of attorney to a friend, who went over to the couple's house to go through her belongings. While she was over there, she found a backpack in the attach - the same one that Larry had used during the hike. It appeared to be covered in blood. Patti's son turned the backpack over to police, but it is unclear if any further evidence was found.
Patti was phsyically fit and training for a marathon at the time of her disappearance, but she was not an experienced hiker and was not dressed for cold weather. She has been neither seen nor heard from since the day of the hike on October 2, 2010, and has been legally declared dead. Though it is almost a decade since Patti disappeared, her friends and family hold out hope for that one missing piece that may finally solve the puzzle. They still want some answers. But more than that, they want to bring her home.