WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
On May 19, 2016, 19-year-old Logan Schiendelman disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Thurston County, Washington.
Logan had been raised primarily by his grandmother, and he was a star athlete at his high school. He went to Washington State University for a year, but decided to drop out of college and return to his hometown, moving in with his grandmother and half-sister and working various jobs.
Logan was last seen on the morning of May 19, 2016 when he talked to his grandmother before leaving for work. His car was discovered, abandoned, on May 20, 2016, his license, wallet and phone still inside. Witnesses claim they saw his car swerving around the interstate and crashing into the median. A witness said he saw a 6 ft fall white man exit from the passenger door and run into the woods (Logan is black).
Other witnesses have come forward with potential sightings of him, but many of the accounts don't align. One woman claims to have seen him standing outside of his parked car with 2 white men.
4 years later, Logan is still missing.
BACKGROUND, DISAPPEARANCE AND INVESTIGATION (1)
Logan was born on June 27, 1996. His grandmother raised him in Tumater, Washington. His father was from Saudi Arabia and met Logan's mother while visiting the U.S. for business, but left the country before he was born. His mother moved to Seattle to pursue art school, and so he and his older, half-sister Chloe became legal dependents of their grandmother (their mother's mother).
Logan attended Tumwater High School and was a model student, as well as a star defensive back on the football team. During this time, his grandmother claimed he was going through an "identity crisis" due to his mixed race: his mother was half white and half black, his father was a Saudi native, and he had been raised by his white grandmother. He just was not sure who he was.
He graduated high school in 2015 and headed for Washington State University, about 300 miles away. But after 1 year, he returned to Tumwater and moved in with his grandmother and Chloe. His grandmother said she was aware he was smoking weed during this time, and thought it may have caused some paranoia. He didn't know what he was doing with his life, but he held several jobs, including a laundering facility and labor jobs.
On the morning of May 19, 2016, before he and his grandmother and headed off for work, they spoke. She said that he was nervous, which was out of character for him, and that he claimed to have had an "epiphany" that he wanted to discuss when they got home.
But he didn't come home. His grandmother tracked his cell phone and found that it was near Olympia, where his mother lived, and so she assumed he was visiting her.
But the next day, he still hadn't come home and she was unable to reach him. When she tried to report her grandson missing, the police department was closed for the weekend. When she filed a missing persons report when the offices opened up on Monday, May 23, she was notified that his car had been impounded, as it was left on the side of the highway. Inside the car were his personal belongings, which were turned over to his grandmother.
Once Logan's disappearance was made public, several witnesses came forward and claimed they had seen his vehicle on Interstate 5 on the morning of May 20. 3 individuals called 911 to report a car matching his car's description swerving between lanes, and ultimately crashing into the concrete divider. A truck driver passing by claimed to have seen a Caucasian man with red or brown hair leaping from the passenger side and running into the woods.
Another witness claimed to have seen 2 Caucasian men standing at the back of his car when it was parked on the shoulder, and saw the car again when driving home but nobody was there. She provided a description of both of the men.
On the evening of May 20, there was a sighting of a naked teenager in the area, but when search dogs were activated, it lead to nothing.
Logan's uncle was a retired Thurston County Sheriff, and he helped organize search efforts for his nephew. Both on foot and aircraft searches were conducted, but no sign of Logan. The area was extremely thick so there is a chance everything wasn't searched, but so far, nothing has been found.
The family hired a private investigator to look into his disappearance, but not enough information was available to even know where to start. Because the car was impounded, it was not processed by a crime lab and so any potential evidence inside was unusable. (Which SUCKS, because his grandmother may have reported him missing before the car was impounded, but because the POLICE WERE CLOSED, all evidence was ruined before they knew the car's owner was missing.)
Logan's movements were able to be tracked on the morning of May 20, but it didn't show much. He drove south, then turned around and headed north, and then went south again, stopping where the car was recovered. The only possible suspect they had was Chloe's boyfriend, who had moved into the house and had some tension with Logan, but he was ruled out.
An article written about a year after his disappearance delves deeper into the personal issues Logan was facing at the time of his disappearance. As mentioned previously, he was starting to enter something of an identity crisis, and his grandmother said that he had recently become more aware of the racism he was facing, and that he had a falling out with his friends after high school. (2)
His first year in college was "very unpleasant for him", his grandmother says, which makes sense: the area his college was in is a very republican/white area that would have been a pretty significant shock from the more progressive area he was from, and he may have gotten his first taste of racism there. (3) This could have further escalated his confusion about who he is, and where he belongs in the world. (2)
Though his friends continued to reach out, he all but ignored them. And when he returned to Tumwater after dropping out of school, he was not the happy-go-lucky kid they went to high school with, and seemed nervous all the time. (2)
He was also smoking pot during this time, which is very extremely common and may not be of note in other situations, but coupled with his potential mental health problems and inability to figure out who he was, the marijuana may have exacerbated the situation. Some also wonder if he was involved in any other drugs as a hail Mary guess as to what may have happened to him. (2)
This case is one of the least open-and-shut disappearance cases I've ever heard of. In most, you can at least determine if it was more likely the victim was met with foul play, left on their own accord, or died in some sort of accident. There is typically a theory that sticks out among the others, one that leads to an educated guess about what probably happened, though hasn't been proven. But not this one.
The identity crisis leads one to believe he may have left on his own accord to try to find himself, though that seems to be counteracted by his "epiphany" that he wanted to talk about with his grandmother later. The 2 white males by the car, or the white man exiting the car, seem to indicate that he was met by foul play, but nothing in his life indicates that anyone would be trying to kill him.
There is also the chance that he wasn't even driving his car. If he had been met with foul play, it would make sense to have only seen the white man running from the car and not Logan, because he may have been disposed of before. The phone showed that the car drove south, then north, then south again: perhaps Logan wasn't the one driving, which is why he wasn't seen by the car.
If one theory rose to the top, it would be that he left on his own. He could have been on drugs, or going through a mental episode, when telling his grandmother about the "epiphany", but decided just to drive off and do whatever he had planned. His family does not believe that he would have up and vanished without a trace, but police do believe he may have been suffering mentally at the time, and perhaps his decision making was beyond what how he normally would have acted. (4)
In one article I read, though I didn't see it elsewhere, it says: "As for known medical conditions, he is severely allergic to peanuts. For that reason, he is supposed to have an EpiPen on him in case of emergencies but did not have one on him at the time of his disappearance." (4) To which I say, how do you know? Did he only have 1, and it was found at home? Because if it was not found with his wallet and phone in the car, there is a chance he took it with him, leaving behind every aspect of his old life except the item that would keep him alive.
Of course, there is always the chance that 2 of the 3 common causes of disappearance (choosing to leave, met with foul play, accidental fatality) occurred. If he decided to up and leave on his own, planning to start anew, there is no way of knowing if while on this journey, he died. If he was in a questionable state of mind, running through thick woods, he could have died of exposure or drowning or some other accident. Or, if he tried to hitchhike or go somewhere to start anew, he still could have been met with foul play. The theory to believe in if you want to believe he is still alive is that he decided to leave on his own, but that doesn't mean he still wasn't met with a tragic end.
Ultimately, if Logan doesn't want to be found, I hope that he has found happiness, but I still wish for closure for his family who misses him. And if his disappearance ended in tragedy, I wish for peace for those who love him.