MSP looking into 1989 missing person case

Courtesy photos of Robert Villarreal

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — It has been 26 years since a West Michigan man disappeared, and his family is still searching for answers.

Detectives are, too. They recently decided to take a closer look at the cold case and try to uncover what happened to Bob Villarreal.

Villarreal was last seen at his mother’s home in the Ottogan Mobile Home Park in Holland in May of 1989.

Initially, police thought he had skipped town, but his car was found at the mobile home park and his wallet and money were found at his home in Douglas.

Villarreal’s family says they have known all along that something strange happened to him.

“At some point, you have to let your faith take over. Say, ‘Someday we’ll know when we’re supposed to know.’ As a sibling it’s hard, but as a parent it’s harder. Both my parents died without knowing what happened to him,” said Linda Wood, Villarreal’s sister.

Initially, detectives thought Villarreal had left town because he had been involved in a hit and run the night before he went missing. But he would have faced only been a minor charge — likely not reason enough to go 26 years without contracting family.

Detectives now say it’s more likely Villarreal might have gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd.

“In the back of our mind, we’re wondering if possibly he met with some kind of foul play,” Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Matt Doan said.

Doan said Villarreal could have been murdered.

He was just 27 when he disappeared. He would be 53 today. He had a 3 year-old son when he vanished. That son is now almost 30.

After talking with his family, it’s clear that though time has passed and people have gotten older, the pain caused by Villarreal’s mysterious disappearance has not healed.

“My youngest child, she was born after Uncle Bob was gone. Would’ve loved for her to know him, for his grandchildren to know him. And if we can’t have that, it’d be nice to have a place to visit him and just say, he’s here,” Wood said.

Police say they don’t have any suspects or persons of interest. They are asking anyone with information about Villarreal to contact Doan at MSP Post in Wayland at 269.792.2213. You can also leave a tip anonymously.

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