On Mother's Day last year, Patrick Chapman texted his ex-wife, with whom he'd stayed friendly after their 2011 divorce, to ask to use their 11-year-old son's Chromebook. He later went over to her house with the same question, saying he needed it to check and see who had taken money out of his account. But his ex, Jen Newbury, misunderstood. "I thought maybe he was accusing our son of taking money out of his account from the laptop—but I overreacted," she tells NBC News. "He looked upset and confused. But I told him to leave. It’s the last time I ever saw him." He went to a family friend's home three hours away, but by early the next morning he and his vehicle were gone, and he hasn't been seen since. His family is hoping that by telling the story to a wider audience, more information about the 34-year-old will come in.
At first, no one was overly alarmed, as Chapman was known to couch-surf or take off camping. But by the end of May, it became clear something was wrong. In mid-June, his vehicle was found abandoned on a 4-wheeler path in Mark Twain National Forest, less than two miles from where he was last seen. Its bumper was severely damaged and all four tires were flat, and Chapman's wallet and medicine were still inside, but his cell phone and keys were missing. Authorities say there's no cell reception in the area where the car was found. Multiple searches have been carried out, but the rural terrain is rough, and people need special hiking and snow gear to look. The next search is scheduled for this weekend, if the weather cooperates. "Every time I look at [their son], every time I see his face, it kills me," Newbury says. "He needs his father. And we need answers." (Read more missing person stories.)