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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
By Ryan Haggerty of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Dec. 29, 2008
Anyone with information about either case is asked to call the Milwaukee Police Department’s Sensitive Crimes Division at (414) 935-7405.
James Cifaldi, 75, hasn’t been seen since Sept. 13, when a neighbor spotted him standing in front of his home on Milwaukee’s northwest side, as if he was waiting for a ride.
Joseph Muelbl, 31, also of Milwaukee, was last heard from Oct. 16, when he made bizarre phone calls to loved ones in which he sounded confused and disoriented.
The families of the men are frustrated, desperate to learn what happened.
Their trails have gone cold, said Lt. Jeff Wisch of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Sensitive Crime Division.
Police consider both cases suspicious because of the lack of information about the men’s disappearances and the length of time they have been missing, Wisch said.
“There’s no hot leads, that’s for sure,” he said.
Neither man has accessed his financial accounts since disappearing, family and police said. The families of both men have been interviewed by police, Wisch said.
Cifaldi last lived with his son, Michael, and his family in the 8900 block of N. Swan Road. The elder Cifaldi has a history of depression and spent much of his money at Potawatomi Bingo Casino, his son said.
James Cifaldi seemed forgetful in the days before his disappearance and did not have his medication with him when he disappeared, his son said.
Police are still searching for a break in the case.
“Every lead is pretty much exhausted,” Wisch said. “Right now, we don’t know what’s going on. There’s no other places to search. There’s no other people to talk to. We’ve talked to everyone he knew.”
Cifaldi’s family has distributed posters with his photo throughout the city’s north side, and Michael Cifaldi said he has called all his father’s relatives and friends. No one has heard from him, Michael Cifaldi said.
“I gotta hope and I gotta have faith that he’s alive, because if I got up every morning thinking that he’s laying out there somewhere, I’d go nuts,” Michael Cifaldi said.
Muelbl’s family also is struggling to come to terms with his disappearance.
Muelbl called his mother and the mother of his son from a cell phone Oct. 16 but sounded disoriented, saying he was in the woods near a Menards in Germantown, said Christina Warren, with whom Muelbl has a 9-year-old son.
The vehicle Muelbl had been driving was found the next day in the parking lot of a Menards in Pewaukee, authorities said.
A 10-day hunt near the Pewaukee store in October – including a two-day search of a pond by a dive team and the use of dogs, all-terrain vehicles and a helicopter – failed to turn up any sign of Muelbl.
Muelbl had a steady job with Kangaroo Brands Inc. and was devoted to his son, his family said.
“It’s just unfathomable that he would walk off on his own,” Warren said.
Muelbl had recently begun taking an anxiety medication that he had not taken before, said his sister, April Theriault.
Police and family said some of Muelbl’s acquaintances have said he was using illegal drugs, but his family said they have found no evidence of drug use.
“Everything is dead ends,” Theriault said. “Where does a person go? How does somebody just disappear?”
The first few days of a missing-person investigation are key, Wisch said.
“Within the first three to four days is when we really have the best opportunities for solvability, and after that, it gets much more difficult,” he said.
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Missing adult alert: James Cifaldi
Written By: firstname.lastname@example.org
The organization is distributing the attached flier which was produced by the Clearinghouse for the public’s information.
Anyone having information on James should contact the Milwaukee Police Department at (414) 935-7402.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice provides assistance to law enforcement agencies and offers victim family services through the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children and Adults. The Clearinghouse works collaboratively with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.