Family members say March 8, 2021, started out as a typical day for 60-year-old retired air traffic controller John Schultz, who left his home early that morning to begin his shift as a part-time rideshare driver in the Las Vegas area.
But when he uncharacteristically failed to check in with his wife throughout the day and never returned home that evening, they knew something was wrong.
John’s daughter, Heather Gradisek, told Dateline that her father worked mornings as a driver for Uber and Lyft. Around 5 a.m. that morning, he left the Rhodes Ranch, Nevada home that he shares with his wife, Barbara, while she spent the day caring for their grandchildren.
Heather, who lives in Colorado, told Dateline it was later that same day when she received a frantic call from her mother.
“My mom hadn’t heard from him all day and when she tried to get in touch with him, the calls went straight to voicemail,” Heather said. “We checked all his favorite spots around town and called everyone we knew. But no one had seen him.”
The family filed a missing persons report with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and a weeks-long search began.
Four days after John vanished, his gray 2015 Toyota Prius (license plate # 75F-457) was located by police several miles up a muddy, rugged road known as Wheeler Pass in the Spring Mountains, Officer Aden OcampoGomez told Dateline. The Prius was stuck in the mud and snow of the pass, which is for all-terrain vehicles.
Heather told Dateline that her father, who is from Minnesota and had lived in Ohio, knows his way around rough terrain roads and would have never tried to drive a Prius up the pass. The area where his vehicle was located is about two hours away from where he lives, which his family believes adds to the mystery of his disappearance.
“We just don’t know why he’d be way out there,” Heather said. “None of it makes any sense.”
The family added that there are other details that didn’t add up like that some of John’s belongings were found, while other items were missing.
Investigators did not want to go into detail about what was found due to John’s disappearance being an open and active investigation.
Search and rescue teams, along with family, friends and volunteers, have been scouring the area looking for John, but Monday marked seven weeks since he went missing and there’s still no trace of him.
Heather told Dateline that their family has replayed many different scenarios over and over in their heads about what could have happened to him, but nothing seems to make sense.
“We’re not ruling anything out because we have so little to go on,” Heather said. “But all we know is that nothing makes sense. He’s the kindest, most hard-working man who would do anything for anyone.”
John and Barbara moved to the Las Vegas area to be closer to their daughters, Heather, and their other daughter, who lives in Vegas. Heather said her father loves to keep busy so when he retired from being an air traffic controller, he decided to work part-time as a rideshare driver.
“And when he’s not working, he’s spending his time with his grandchildren,” Heather said, adding that he went missing right before one of their birthdays. “He wouldn’t just leave and miss something like that. They’re his world.”
Family members continue to search for John as they plead with the public to call police if they’ve seen him or have any information that could lead to his whereabouts.
At the time of his disappearance, John was wearing blue jeans, a black jacket, Sperry shoes and a Coors Light baseball cap. He’s described as being 5’8” tall and weighing 175 lbs. Police say John is considered to be an endangered missing adult and might be in need of medical assistance.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of John Schultz, please call the Las Vegas Metro PD at 702-828-3111 or missing persons detectives during business hours at 702-828-2907.