Anthony Klama — known as Tony to family and friends — liked to play darts. On the evening of Thursday, November 5, 1998, he decided to spend some time doing just that. At 9:00 pm, he left his residence in the Foxfire Apartment complex in Palatine, Illinois, and made the short walk to Splinter’s Sports Bar, located just a couple of blocks away. The 36-year-old spent a few hours playing darts there before leaving around 11:45 pm to walk back to his apartment.
Tony had been alone when he left Splinter’s Sports Bar, but witnesses would later recall seeing him and an unidentified man get out of a light-colored car in the parking lot of the Foxfire Apartments. The man who was with Tony was described as being around 5 feet 9 inches tall, 190 pounds, with dark hair and a mustache. No one knew who this man was but it was possible it was someone he had been playing darts with while at the sports bar. The two were seen entering the building together, although no one saw where they went once they were inside the building. Tony was never seen again.
Tony was divorced and had no children, but he was extremely close with his family and was in daily contact with his parents and siblings. They grew concerned when they were unable to reach him that Friday; by Saturday, they were certain something was wrong. His car was in the parking lot outside of the apartment building but repeated knocks on his door went unanswered.
Tony worked as a maintenance supervisor at the Foxfire Apartment complex but none of his coworkers or any of the residents had seen him, so his family called the Palatine Police Department and reported him missing.
Police searched through Tony’s apartment and found no signs of foul play. Only one item was unaccounted for: the handset to Tony’s cordless phone. A large key ring containing all the master keys for the apartment complex was also missing, but Tony usually kept it clipped to his belt loop so it was possible he had it with him wherever he was.
Investigators obtained Tony’s bank records and discovered that he had made two $20 withdrawals on the night he was last seen. Both were made at an ATM located inside Splinter’s Sports Bar. There was nothing suspicious about these transactions; Tony had most likely wanted cash so he could pay for his beer at the bar. There was no activity on his bank account after he went missing.
Detectives combed through Tony’s phone records and determined that three calls had been made to his apartment in the hours before he was last seen. All three were from payphones; the first one had been made shortly before 9:00 pm from a Shell gas station. It was possible Tony had taken this call right before he left to go to Splinter’s Sports Bar.
The final two phone calls had come from Dominick’s Finer Foods, a grocery store located at 615 E. Dundee Road, about a mile away from Tony’s apartment. The calls were made in quick succession around 1:40 am; there was no further phone activity after this.Foxfire Apartments (Photo credit: apartments.com)
Although it was unclear who made these phone calls to Tony, the fact that the handset to his cordless phone was missing from his apartment seemed to indicate that the calls were related to his disappearance. He had Caller ID on his phone, so the handset would have displayed all the phone numbers that called him. It was possible those involved in his disappearance were unaware that police would be able to obtain his phone records.
Those closest to Tony knew he would never willingly walk away from his life. He had been excited about a promotion he was expecting to get at work and had never shown any signs of depression; for his family, suicide was not a possibility. They were convinced that foul play was involved in his disappearance, and investigators seemed to agree. Although they found no concrete evidence to suggest that Tony had been harmed, they checked with all area morgues and hospitals in case Tony had been admitted somewhere as a John Doe. They found no one matching Tony’s description.
Investigators used search dogs and cadaver dogs to comb through Deer Grove Forest Preserve, located less than four miles from Tony’s apartment. It was unclear if they had received any tips pointing them to that location, but they found nothing relevant to the investigation.
According to Tony’s family, he wasn’t involved in any sort of high-risk activities that might make him a target for m*urder. He enjoyed drinking beer but never used drugs, and he liked to play darts but wasn’t a gambler and didn’t owe anyone any money. He had no criminal record and wasn’t involved in any illegal activity, nor had he ever mentioned being threatened by anyone. His disappearance was a complete mystery.
Although they were unable to find any evidence pointing to foul play, detectives admitted that there was something strange and unsettling about Tony’s disappearance. They were convinced that someone had to know what had happened to Tony and made several public appeals for the person who had called his apartment on the night of his disappearance to come forward. No one did, however, and the investigation soon stalled and went cold.
The Cook County Crime Stoppers program announced that they were offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to Tony’s safe return or the arrest and conviction of those responsible for his disappearance, but few tips were received.
Sadly, Tony’s case has remained in the cold case files since shortly after he vanished. The last time the case was mentioned by the news media was a brief article in 2012. During an interview with a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, Palatine Police Detective Dave Daigle admitted the case was mysterious but declined to provide any further details about the investigation. He was optimistic that it could be solved, noting, “This case is going to break open by someone remembering someone or something.” To date, this hasn’t happened.
Tony’s family refused to give up their search for him and did everything they could to make sure his name remained in the public eye. His older sister, Linda, noted that it was difficult to get publicity for missing adults. Although she stated that the Palatine Police Department had been helpful in her brother’s case, as a rule missing adults tended to go unnoticed. “They think if you are over 21, you are free to disappear — especially with males.” Hoping to change this, Linda decided to start the Klama Foundation, a non-profit agency dedicated to helping the families of missing adults. The foundation helped countless families before Tony’s family decided to disband it.
Anthony Klama was 36 years old when he went missing in 1998. He was very close with his siblings and parents and they do not believe he would have voluntarily left. Tony has green eyes and brown hair, and at the time of his disappearance, he was 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighed around 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue and white flannel shirt, and a blue plaid flannel jacket. He has several Native American-style tattoos on his shoulders and chest. If you have any information about Tony, please contact the Palatine Police Department at 847–359–9000 or the Illinois State Police at 217–785–3327.