Family seeks answers for missing man more than decade later

Loved ones start fundraising campaign to set up billboards in Carroll County
Family seeks answers for missing man more than decade later
Published: May. 20, 2023 at 10:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A Metro Atlanta family is calling for help, in a decades-old missing persons case. Officials said Brian Wehrle was last seen in Carrollton Georgia in September 2009.

Wehrle’s niece, Amanda Rickles said he lived in Atlanta at the time and came to her grandparents’ house on Crescent Drive in Carrollton to clean up the place.

“He was there, he had been cutting the grass that day and doing some normal maintenance stuff around the house. I talked to him, it was like three or four, and he was done cutting grass, taking a break, and getting Taco Bell,” she said.

FBI missing person flyer
FBI missing person flyer(Atlanta News First)

Rickles said her uncle was the power of attorney for his parent’s estate. Rickles said his signature was missing from the documents.

“He was in town specifically, because there was a probate court, hearing that following morning, that a signature was just missing on a document, unfortunately, he had to come to town for that,” Rickles said.

The family said Wehrle went to visit his sister and came back to the parents’ home, and has been gone since.

“Two a.m. the neighbors to my grandparents’ house, saw a light on in the garage and assumed it was him, didn’t actually know, but at 8 AM he had missed the probate court hearing and no one has heard or seen him since,” Rickles said.

His niece said she talks to her uncle multiple times a day.

“It had gotten to where I was calling him three to five times every day and before I knew it, he had become my best friend too, and then he was gone,” Rickles said. “When he didn’t answer, I was panicking, it had set in, I knew something was wrong,” she said. “We tried to alert the police because he was medically fragile. He had a pacemaker, he had rheumatoid arthritis, so severe that there were times where he was scared to take a bath because he was worried that he would not be able to get out of the bathtub without assistance,” Rickles said. “He had insomnia,” he said.

According to a flyer from the FBI’s website, Wehrle’s car was found in Tennessee with the key in the ignition. Rickles said that was in December.

“His car was found in Chattanooga in what was called by the police in Carrollton and in Chattanooga,” she said. “Sitting there for over a month at that point left untouched, unlocked, keys in the ignition. Tupperware filled with change in the front seat, a book he had been reading, Taco Bell receipt,” she said.

The Carrollton Police Department said neighbors told them a man, that was not Wehrle was seen getting out of that vehicle that had been there for several weeks.

Authorities also said it doesn’t appear to be a robbery.

“While we have no idea if he is related to Brian’s disappearance or just had the opportunity to get that vehicle, we could obviously love to identify him and speak to him. All attempts to identify him in 2009 were unsuccessful. We do not believe robbery to be a motive, as nothing in Wehrle’s vehicle appeared to be disturbed or taken. No DNA was recovered from the vehicle, so we don’t have anything to compare as far as that goes,” officials said.

They also mentioned the original license plate has not been found.

“The vehicle had a license plate that was stolen from another residence in Chattanooga. The plate that belonged to the vehicle has never been recovered. The resident in Chattanooga who saw the male getting out of it did say it had been there for several weeks, but she didn’t think much of it at the time because another man in the neighborhood worked on cars and sometimes cars would be parked there,” an official with the Carrollton Police Department said.

“When the car was located and processed, partial prints were taken; however, those prints are not AFIS quality (meaning not high enough quality to be put into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System). Those prints were again examined a couple of years ago to determine if that remained the case and it does,” the police official said.

According to the FBI’s website, they said foul play is suspected.

“We were living in a horror movie. Something terrible and unimaginable happened and we were going around screaming for help, begging anyone, everyone please, please help,” Rickles said “Still til this day we’ve had to find out a way to live with this hole that’s just always there, always in our lives,” she said. “It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve had to do, that any of us have had to do, is finding a way to still go on living our lives after it was made known that no one cares,” she said.

The family wants investigators to look more into this case.

“If they’re truly at a dead end, I would like for them to double back and start over and start speaking to everyone again,” Rickles said. “All his family, friends, and just keep asking questions until there are no more questions to be answered. Ultimately, I hope some changes come about and that no one ever had to go through anything like this ever again,” she said.

For now, the family is taking matters into their own hands.

“We have a GoFundMe to have billboards up in Carrollton and around to just get more attention drawn to the case to get more people out there asking questions,” Rickles said.

She said any excess funds will be put aside to pay for a private investigator for Wehrle’s case. They want anyone who knows anything to come forward.

“You do not have to be afraid to come forward, please come forward and let us know anonymously, whatever you’ve got to do. We’ve got to find something, 14 years is too long,” Rickles said.

She said in June, Wehrle would be 53 years old and left this message for him.

“We absolutely still love you. We want you to come home. Not a day goes by that we don’t imagine how different our lives would be if you were still here,” she said.

The Carrollton Police Department said if anyone has information on this case, they can contact Captain Shannon Cantrell or Meredith Browning at 770-834-4451. Officials said you can also leave a tip via their website or app.