by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
The search for Mikel Schepke, 47, was suspended on the eve of firearms deer season after crews searched for five-and-a-half days north of Rogers City. He came up missing after leaving his home along Birchwood Drive.
Officials from the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Department decided to end the search to keep search crews out of harm’s way during the annual hunt. Following some of the harshest weather since last winter, the search had become a recovery, Nov. 13.
Law enforcement agencies from across the region were involved, as well as the regional CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team, fire fighters, state police, U.S. Coast Guard and residents on horseback and four-wheelers.
Mike had been living with his sister Jane McCaslin and her husband Cal for two-and-one-half years. Mike had gone on daily walks, but always came back.
It has been another ordeal for a family, who have not been able to escape a tragic night in their history. On Nov. 5, 1976, Mike and his mother Lauretta were left for dead after a brutal attack at the family-owned Halfway Station, a gas and food store along 638 Highway near Millersburg.
Mike, who had been attending school in Rogers City, was considered a normal young man with no physical disabilities.
He returned from school on the bus and walked into the store to find two assailants holding his mother with large hunting knives. They went after Mike, stabbing him four times and beat him. Lauretta also was stabbed and beaten.
Mike underwent brain surgery the next day in Saginaw, even though some doctors did not think he would survive the ambulance ride to mid-Michigan.
The road to recovery has been a long 37 years for a man, whose life was changed the day in which downstate men on a murderous crime spree entered the store.
The store was only open from Memorial Day to the end of the deer season.
“His mentally disabilities came from him being beaten and left for dead,” said Cal. “He has a steel plate in his head, and had part of his brain removed because of it.”
Cal said Mike had been “real apprehensive this year about the date. We usually don’t say too much about it.”
He said the frustrating part of the search has been that there have been no signs of his whereabouts.
“Walking was his daily routine,” said Cal.
The McCaslins, when Mike came to live with them, put him on a path of healthier living. Mike’s liver was enlarged three times and doctors wanted him to lose about 100 pounds.
“He was a walking time bomb,” said Cal. “He was going to die if he didn’t. When he came to live with us, he was on 21 medications, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and insulin.”
Last summer, during an annual check up, he had lost 78 pounds and was down to seven medications, and also was taken off of the CPAP machine and insulin.
“He was healthy,” said Cal. “Things were getting better, but slowly. We would take two steps ahead and drop three back. He had showed improvement on almost everything.”
Regarding the search coming to an end, Cal said, “I would not want anybody to get hurt out in the woods.”
Cal visited the sheriff’s department Tuesday morning and was told they have not given up and continue following up on leads.
“He has always been a lively, loving soul and sees good in everyone he meets,” said Jane, of her younger brother.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s department at 989-734-2156.