The Missing Americans Project

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Robert C. Ehlert (Bob) ~ Missing in the Republic of Panama


Robert C. Ehlert (Bob) ~ Missing in the Republic of Panama

~~ Bob was last seen leaving Shelter Bay Marina near Panama City in the Republic of Panama, on June 21, 2013. Both Bob and his car are missing.

~~ Family members across the USA have been contacting government officials to get support for FBI involvement in a search effort for Bob. 

~~ He left a note, letting friends know that he would be gone for two weeks to explore a property deal in Bocas del Toro. Since the note was a forgery, we now think that Bob may have been kidnapped.

~~ For the last 10 years, Bob has spent half the year in Panama and the other half in Minnesota. Missing person reports have been filed in both places and family representatives are now in Panama to follow up in person with the American Embassy and local authorities.

~~ Phone inquiries are not always helpful and barriers to information pop up at every turn. We are most concerned that Bob’s e-mail and phone connectivity went silent on June 21, 2013. Staying connected to family and friends is something that Bob cherishes the most. 

~~ Bob is a Vietnam Veteran who served his country during the peak period of the war. Now, it is our hope, that the U.S. will give back to Bob by helping the embassy and local authorities lead a search effort to sort out Bob’s disappearance.

~~ Bob is optimistic and has a zest for living that is contagious. He has been pursuing a lifelong dream of sailing around the world and using the land to grow native crops. We are all thinking the worst but holding on to a glimmer of hope that he has an opportunity to fulfill those dreams.

Location: Friends & Family in USA & Abroad
Members: 37
Latest Activity: Jun 26, 2017

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Comment by Patricia A. Beaver on June 17, 2014 at 12:26pm

It has now been a year since Bob Ehlert went missing in Panama City. Although the case is still open, the U.S. Courts have sufficient information to declare Bob deceased. His daughter, Mariah Ehlert, has set up a website memorial tribute for her dad. Friends, acquaintances, and family members are welcome to visit the site and share stories that help celebrate the life of Bob Ehlert. He was a man with a passion for living and a generous heart that made the world a better place. He’ll be deeply missed by all those who knew him but his spirit will echo in our hearts forever. Visit the Bob Ehlert Memorial Tribute site at the following link. A big thank you to everyone who supported us on this journey to find Bob. Although many questions will never be answered, Bob would want us all to continue to celebrate life and live it to its fullest.


Comment by KL on January 11, 2014 at 2:34pm

Pat - thanks for the update.  If you have investigators working your case and they are making forward progress - definitely support them and keep them going!  Don't stop an active investigation if people are getting somewhere.  I wish you the best, and hope you get the answers you are looking for.


Comment by Patricia A. Beaver on January 11, 2014 at 2:24pm

The extended family of Bob Ehlert and teams engaged with this investigation are doing more than I can report in this public forum.

As an American, this incident has certainly opened my eyes to many problems and roadblocks that I never knew were threatening the safety and security of our citizens abroad. For Americans or any foreigners who plan to visit or move outside the country of their citizenship, it’s important to become educated on local conditions and laws. By being better informed, it’s possible to take precautions to help prevent, although not totally stop, being the targeted victim of a crime.


The U.S. Department of State maintains a website with a wealth of information. However, my guess is that it is under utilized, even though scams, methods of how Americans are victimized, the prevalence of criminal activity, and tips on how to prevent becoming a victim, are fully disclosed for destinations around the world. In my opinion, rather than worry about how full disclosure will hurt tourism, creative ways to deliver the education about threats abroad and their prevention are warranted.


When I was a child, the Bell Telephone Company wanted to find a creative way to promote phone etiquette. Articles from the syndicated newspaper column Ask Ann Landers and other columnists helped spread the word among adults. However, to promote compliance, Bell made a short, animated film that was shown to elementary school students across the country. To this day, I remember this short film and the suggestions it offered for proper phone etiquette. I offer this story as an example of how the delivery of information can be key in potentially impacting a person’s behavior. If we want Americans to be more informed travelers and members of Expat communities, we have to weave the education for global citizenship into the fabric of our lives.

Family members remain optimistic, but realize that we may never get answers to the unanswered questions that we have about Bob's disappearance. We can, however, begin to use the hard lessons that we've learned to help make positive changes for the future.

Comment by KL on January 11, 2014 at 12:53pm

Louis - good piece of advice.  It does pay to be cautious.


Comment by Louis Seldon on January 11, 2014 at 9:48am

Be cautious of some so called (gringo/ExPat) experts.

Comment by KL on January 11, 2014 at 2:44am

The difficulty with all the countries in Central America is that the system is crooked ... corruption is rampant and honest police investigation often does not exist.  This causes the families if missing persons to go through huge up's and down's in emotions.  They are told that the case is being escalated, then nothing develops and eventually they become depressed.  That is a very hard emotional cycle to deal with.

Most of the missing persons cases involve foul play - wither by business associates or crime syndicates.  This kind of stuff will never be uncovered by news reporters.  Journalists are at serious risk of their own lives throughout Mexico and Central America.  For the same reason, local "investigators" do not really look too deep.  They know all too well that they will be killed themselves if they ask too many questions.  Americans have difficulty comprehending the seriousness of this - because we are fortunate to live in a country where the law usually prevails.  However, crime syndicates and drug cartels are extremely powerful through Central America.  The police are intimidated and will not cross their interests.  It takes special people to work in these hostile environments to pursue leads and deal with the very real dangers that exist.  It's no cakewalk.

I do hope this case is resolved.  And you can be sure that there are people in Panama who know exactly what happened.  But getting them to talk - that is outside the scope of all normal inquiries.

Comment by Louis Seldon on January 10, 2014 at 8:43am

Interesting   didn't open, this is the first I'm seeing your comments, looks like your found it site anyway.  Sorry, point is there seems to be more violence, crime & kidnapping in Panama recently?  Also yesterday was the 50 anniversary of the Panama flag incident that resulted in the U.S. loosing the canal.  There was a ceremony/demonstration but I have NOT seen any news on the Martyrs' Day event?

Comment by Patricia A. Beaver on January 10, 2014 at 12:53am

Thanks, Louis, and others who have reached out to help. The case has been escalated to the "Fiscalia Primera Superior" in Panama and family members are following up or joining the authorities to follow up on all leads.

Comment by Louis Seldon on January 8, 2014 at 6:43pm

I have been given the name of a person who maybe able to help you, his name is Brett Mikkelson; I have had no personal contact with him or contact information other than he is on fb & can be contacted via fb.

Comment by Louis Seldon on January 7, 2014 at 9:30am

Received this comment from Panama via facebook, hope the family can use this info, not sure about the double name Alvarado Alvarado, error or TV name?

Roy Blades 10:59am Jan 6
if the family is still in country have them go in the morning to channel 13 with the info on the lack of progress from Authorities.the reporter there his name Alvarado Alvarado.he likes these things.the family can show pics of the person and car if they got one. if they don't Speak Spanish get a friend who is bilingual to them up.

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