Harris man, last seen in Panama, declared dead

NW Ehlert deadBob Ehlert, of Harris, who is known to many in the county because of his involvement with the University of Minnesota Extension as a Chisago County Master Gardener, has been declared officially dead by the U.S. government.

Ehlert was last seen more than a year ago in Panama.

According to a story the Post Review printed on the search for Ehlert last year:

Doug Ehlert, Bob Ehlert’s nephew, said the family and authorities discovered numerous oddities in relation to his uncle’s disappearance.

He said the two men who had been working on Bob Ehlert’s boat in Panama visited the condo sometime after June 21, 2013, and found it unlocked. Upon entering, the men found a broken wine glass, but nothing was missing from the home.

“(Leaving your home unlocked) is kind of surprising in Panama City,” Doug Ehlert said. “You see a lot of houses with razor wire fencing on them.”

A note was also later found that said Bob Ehlert was leaving for two weeks with a woman named Diane to look at properties in a remote resort area called Bocas del Toro.

Doug Ehlert said he looked at the note, and he and Mariah Ehlert, Bob Ehlert’s daughter, thought it didn’t look like Bob Ehlert’s handwriting. He also said it didn’t look as though it was written by a native English speaker.

“It started with ‘I going’ instead of ‘I’m going,’” he said. “It also said, ‘to see some old friend.’ A native English speaker would say ‘an old friend.’”

By talking to some people in the area, the two found out Bob Ehlert met two Colombian women, possibly named Diana and Anna, at a bar called the Havana Club and he went to a soccer game with the women.

Doug Ehlert said he was not able to get in contact with the women.

“I found out that down (in Panama) there are a lot of young Colombian women who prey on older men,” he said. “There have been several scams with women (asking men) to look at real estate.”

But for Doug Ehlert, even the real estate scam possibility doesn’t seem to explain the disappearance. He said he checked his uncle’s browser history on his computer at his condo and found no evidence that he was looking at properties in Bocas Del Toro. He also said it would be odd for his uncle to look at properties there because purchasing houses or condos there can be difficult.

“Titles are hard to get,” he said. “It’s a risky investment unless you’re very careful.”

In addition to those discoveries, Doug Ehlert said they found a receipt from a hardware store that showed Bob Ehlert had bought a sledgehammer, a carpenter’s axe, a pickaxe and spray paint. He and Mariah Ehlert are unsure why Bob Ehlert would have purchased those items.

Doug Ehlert added that his uncle’s bank statements do not show any activity since he went missing, and his sailboat was docked at a Panamanian marina.

However, Bob Ehlert’s car was missing.

In an email last week, Mariah Ehlert said the investigation into her father’s disappearance is still ongoing and “hasn’t lost momentum.”

However, she added, “Things take an extraordinary long time down there (in Panama).”

On a website she set up to update people about the search for her father, mariahehlert.wix.com/findbob, Mariah Ehlert posted this:

“Bob Ehlert had an adventurer’s heart. He wasn’t afraid to get out and try something new; he loved to drink good wine, travel to far-out destinations, sail, garden, give back to his community, and, of course, he loved his family and friends deeply. Bob was much loved and is greatly missed.

“May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-Irish blessing”

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