Vincent “Vince” Wesselmann has a sincere heart of gold.
He was raised by adoring parents and eleven siblings in southern Illinois where he was born in the 1930s. In the 1950s, Vince served in the US army and remained close to his family. Although Vince was a lifelong bachelor who never wed or had kids, he spent a lot of time with his siblings, nieces, and nephews. He was employed by a stove firm for many years before switching to a position at Men’s Formal Wear in a neighboring town. Breese, Illinois, a town of about 4500 people, was home to Vince and the majority of his siblings. He built a house in the 1960s and relocated his elderly parents there, where he took care of them until their deaths in the 1980s and 1990s. After that, he volunteered and gave back to the community.
A food charity called House of Manna received the produce that Vince, an experienced gardener, contributed. In addition, he spent more than 18 years building homes while working for Habitat for Humanity. Every year, he would also take a week off from work to help at a Catholic youth camp. He participated in the American Legion Society, the St. Augustine Parish Society, the House of Manna, and other community service projects. He also regularly attended church. You can discover articles about Vince’s charity activities, such as helping at a Red Cross blood drive or constructing homes for the less fortunate, in the Breese newspaper that date back decades. All of this is to indicate that Vincent was a good person with lots of friends, a close-knit family, and no known adversaries. He was in his seventies, but he was in good health, and the only prescription he took was for toenail fungus. Three years prior, he nearly suffered a mini-stroke, but he fully recovered and made careful to exercise every day for his health. He especially enjoyed riding his bike and going for walks. As far as anyone knew, he had neither depression nor dementia, and his health wasn’t a concern.
Vince, a 75-year-old man, had recently resigned from Men’s Formal Wear a few weeks prior to April 21st, 2011. That morning, he and his brother Jerry were tearing out the flooring in their home in preparation for rebuilding it. Vince had planned to go to church that evening or at the very least attend services on Friday night on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. On Sunday, he was also going to have dinner with his family. Jerry left Vince’s house with the intention of returning a few days later to assist him in finishing the job, but regrettably this would never occur. Vince was seen by neighbours at around 5:30 that evening.
On Good Friday the next day, around 11 a.m., Vince was spotted wandering near the Breese Grain Company. (Some accounts indicate 5:00 pm) At S. Broadway and Walnut, he was heading east as he crossed the railroad tracks. He was probably on his way to the post office. Later, friends and family members claimed that Vince walked to the Post Office practically every day to retrieve his mail and newspaper. His residence on South Plum Street is about a half-mile from the post office, and the Breese Grain firm, where he was last seen, is about two miles away from the post office and about three miles away, or four blocks. Google Maps suggests that the Breese Grain Company is only a few blocks from the shortest path from Vince’s house to the post office, but his family did not find this remarkable as he loved to walk and did so almost every day. We also don’t know his usual route. In any case, he never arrived at the post office on April 22. Friends and family considered it odd that Vince didn’t go to Good Friday church that evening.
The following day, on Saturday, the 23rd, the family called the police to report Vince missing because they hadn’t heard from him. Vince’s car, bicycle, money, and keys were all in the house when police arrived at his house. While a few accounts claim that Vince had his wallet with him when he vanished, others claim that it was at the home. Nothing had been taken, and his home had not been pillaged. Although they were unworn, his church attire were spread out on the bed, perhaps for Friday night. Contrary to his usual routine, his trash had not been dragged back to the house after being placed at the curb. It’s unclear if Thursday or Friday was trash day. Vince did not use credit cards or a cell phone. Investigations later revealed that he had money in the bank and few to no debts, despite the fact that his bank account had not been touched since before he vanished. Some newspapers claim that the Friday sighting is unsubstantiated, while other publications assert that the sighting is legitimate because it occurred along Vince’s typical route. According to some sources, who utterly doubt this sighting, Vince was last seen on the 21st by his neighbours at around 5:00 pm.
Starting on Saturday night, a team of police, firefighters, family members, and volunteers looked for Vince for many days, but they were unable to locate him. Vince most likely disappeared somewhere between Breese Grain Company and the post office, a distance of about a quarter of a mile through a busy neighbourhood. Vince was widely liked by those who knew him and had no criminal history. Vince didn’t precisely have anything on him that would make him a target for a robbery, and all of his belongings—money, a bike, and a car—were safe and sound at home.
Police initially speculated that Vince might have fallen into a body of water that had flooded as a result of that evening’s storm, but even after the weather had dried up, nothing of Vince’s was discovered. Farmers were urged to search their fields for anything, but there was nothing found. A shoe was once discovered in a creek, but it was later confirmed that it was not Vince’s. A local resident did contact the police to report seeing a man who resembled Vince wandering along the banks of adjacent Shoal Creek. Although the area was thoroughly investigated, nothing was discovered, and it is unclear whether the man who was spotted was truly Vince. A few local ponds were also drained, but in vain. Another peculiar detail is that a neighbour who saw Vince on Wednesday claimed he appeared “disoriented,” but they later revealed they had only seen him across the street and hadn’t spoken to or interacted with him that day.
Police have described the disappearance as “baffling” because there are no further leads in the investigation. Initially, it was reported that no foul play was suspected; however, as the years have passed, some have begun to suspect otherwise. There are only three ideas that the police believe could be true. The authorities have hypothesised that Vince, who may have been out on a stroll at the time, sought shelter in a shed, cave, tree well, or abandoned automobile on Friday, April 22, and ultimately perished from a medical condition or exposure to the elements. The other possibility they consider plausible is that Vince was offered a lift in a car by someone who noticed him walking, and that person later injured or killed Vince for an unspecified reason. Vince was known to be polite and helpful, therefore it’s also plausible that he offered to aid someone who had terrible motives. The third hypothesis is that Vince suffered a medical emergency and passed away while out for a stroll. The fact that Vince was in good condition and vanished in a frequented place makes this theory less feasible, despite the fact that it is an intriguing one. Locals have noted how flat and sparsely vegetated the land around Breese is, despite the presence of few trees. It is also difficult to imagine that Vince could have strayed so far from his intended location that he would have died from the elements or experienced a medical emergency in a place where you would never be able to locate him. Police nevertheless continued to search every morgue, hospital, and jail in the state to see if Vince was listed there as a John Doe, but no place had a match.
Two further theories concerning the case have been brought up in online forums. According to one idea, Vince, who had recently retired, killed himself because he was having trouble feeling needed in life without a job. This is a fair criticism, in my opinion, but Vince seems to have kept himself occupied and had a lot to look forward to, so he doesn’t match the stereotype of an elderly person with lots of free time but nothing to do with it. Suicide is not always a reasonable choice, of course. Another possibility I’ve read online is that Vince may have been a gay man who was secretive and had a poor “date.” Although this is an intriguing possibility, Vince was clearly prepared to meet up with someone on foot without his money or keys, so I believe this is a little far-fetched given the information we currently have. It appears from the state of his residence that Vince left for a brief run and just never returned.
I also wanted to bring up a point that was made in a previous thread: “Vincent Wesselmann was assassinated in Beckemeyer, Illinois, by a man with the initials ST who works for Dan Crow. Each Tuesday, they play card games. He was buried under a draw barn that ST was building. The bird personally told me this. Law enforcement in Clinton County can do it too if I can figure it out. This is something about which I have absolutely no idea, but I did want to include it. This fact has never been further developed by the commentator.
The Breese Journal frequently reported Vince’s story for the first few years after his abduction, although the material is at best scant. Police once stated that they suspect Vince was a victim of intentional misconduct and that someone out there knows something. Additionally, they encourage anyone who saw Vince on Thursday or Friday to contact them so they can put up a timeline of exactly what transpired on those two days. Sadly, no additional information has been provided on Vince Wesselmann’s disappearance; still, his family is still hunting for him. In the hopes that one day he will be located, they raise posters, place advertising in the newspaper, and keep a Facebook page active. Police claim that because it appears as though he really vanished into thin air, it is one of the oddest disappearances they have ever encountered.
Wesselmann is described as a 75-year-old Caucasian male, 5’9″ to 6’0″, weighing between 210 and 235 pounds, with short grey brown hair and blue eyes. He always has a tidy beard. He might have been dressed in a black heavy ankle work shoe, a watch, dark blue jeans, dark blue baseball cap, and a blue or checkered shirt.
Call the Breese Police Department at 618-526-7226 if you have any information.