Daniel Reaves spent the evening of Saturday, May 3, 2008, watching television with his girlfriend, Sara Schafer, at her home in Madison, Indiana. The 25-year-old had been dating Sara for about seven years, and they had a daughter together. At some point, Sara dozed off; when she woke up shortly after 4:00 am, Daniel was gone.
Sara checked her phone when she woke up and discovered that Daniel had sent her a text message at 4:00 am. It was a short message, reading only, “I love you.” There was no explanation about where Daniel had gone and nothing about when he planned to return. Sara was somewhat confused by his abrupt departure but assumed that Daniel had decided to return to his parents’ home. She called his cell phone to see why he had left but got no answer.
Daniel never showed up at his parents’ house. The following day, they started to worry when they were unable to reach him on his cell phone. They called the Madison Police Department and reported him missing.
Initially, police weren’t too concerned. Daniel was an adult, free to disappear if he wanted to. Since both Daniel and his car were missing, investigators thought he had simply decided he needed to take a break from his life for a while and would turn up in a few days. Daniel’s loved ones were adamant that this wasn’t the case. Daniel wasn’t the type of person who tended to isolate himself from others; he was usually in constant contact with his parents and his girlfriend.
On May 10, 2008, a week after Daniel was last seen, investigators located his gold Sebring convertible. It had been parked on Green Hills Road in Madison the entire time; by the time detectives connected it with the missing person case, residents had reported it as abandoned and it had been scheduled to be towed to an impound lot.
Before Daniel’s car was found, the doors were left unlocked and his wallet, which had cash, ID, and credit cards, was still inside. Daniel’s cell phone and car keys were the only things that didn’t seem to be there.
Soon after Daniel’s parents found out that his car hadn’t been locked, they were sure that Daniel wasn’t the last person to drive it. “When he parks his car in our driveway, he locks it,” his dad, Scott Reaves, said. Daniel would never have left his convertible without making sure it was locked, he was sure of it. “There was something very strange about the way he left his car. At this point, things got pretty bad, and we have been looking for him ever since.”
Trying to find something that would help them find Daniel, the Indiana State Police searched his car for evidence. A lot of people were also searched the area around where the car was found. Daniel didn’t live in the neighborhood where his car was found, but he knew the area well and had gone hiking in Clifty Falls State Park, which is close by. There was no sign of Daniel when search teams looked all over the park.
When Daniel’s car was found, it became a little less likely that Daniel had just vanished on his own. Daniel couldn’t get money because he had left his wallet behind. We looked through his cell phone records and saw that he hadn’t used it since early May 4th, which is when we think he left Sara’s house.
When detectives asked Daniel’s family if he might have been suicidal, they said that was not the case. Daniel was a little shy, and his parents said he was very close to his family. He had no history of depression and was fine in his personal life. “Everything seemed to be in perfect order in his life,” Scott told the press.
Sara said that her relationship with Daniel was good. “We’re very close and are together all the time. We haven’t grown tired of each other yet, and in the past six or seven years, we haven’t gone more than a couple of days without talking.” Before he disappeared, she hadn’t noticed anything odd about Daniel’s behavior. He hadn’t been upset or angry.
On May 22, 2008, the Indiana State Police asked everyone to help them find Daniel. Detectives had talked to the man’s family, friends, and coworkers, but they still didn’t know what had happened to him. Since there was no solid proof of foul play, they thought it was possible that Daniel had just quit his job, but they also agreed that it was not like the quiet young man to do something like that.
Three weeks after Daniel was last seen, Kentuckiana Crimestoppers announced that they were offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to Daniel’s whereabouts. A few tips were called in, but none of them helped investigators find Daniel. Scott told reporters, “He has essentially fallen off the face of the earth. We cannot find anything.”
Debbie Reaves made an emotional plea for people to be on the lookout for her son. “We just want everyone to be looking for Daniel and we want his face and name out there so that if anyone has any information they can please help us find him.”
Although the family believed that Daniel had likely been a victim of foul play, they tried to remain optimistic. His brother, Chris Westendorf, noted, “You don’t think something like this can happen to your family until it does…I just want a resolution. Once my family and I get a definitive result we can rest a little easier.”
Daniel has been missing for almost 15 years, and detectives still don’t know if he committed suicide, walked away to start a new life somewhere, or was a victim of foul play. Although the investigation has been cold for years, Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houza believes that there are people in the area who have the answers needed to solve the case. “Someone out there knows what happened to Daniel Reaves.”
Daniel Reaves was just 25 years old when he vanished from Madison, Indiana in May 2008. He had no history of mental problems and didn’t exhibit any signs of depression before he went missing; his family believes that he was a victim of foul play. Daniel has blue eyes and brown hair, and at the time of his disappearance, he was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 145 pounds. He was last seen wearing a light-colored T-shirt, tan shorts, and brown suede sneakers; he may have been wearing a black leather jacket. If you have any information about Daniel, please contact the Indiana State Police at 812–689–5000 or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department at 812–265–2648.