Paul Knockel (Courtesy WHO-TV)

Paul Knockel (Courtesy WHO-TV)

Paul Joseph Knockel

Missing Person

Age at Report: 53
DOB: October 26, 1937
Weight: 265 lbs.
Height: 5′ 10″
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown
Incident Type: Endangered / physical
Missing From: 2105 Washington St.
Dubuque, IA
Dubuque County
Investigating Agency: Dubuque Police Department
Case Number: 90-31654
NCIC Number: M-460734448
NamUs MP # 27736
Missing Since: November 26, 1990

Paul Joseph Knockel, 53, was reported missing to the Dubuque Police Department in Dubuque, Iowa, on Monday, November 26, 1990.

Dubuque CountyDubuque County in Iowa
Dubuque, IA Dubuque in Dubuque County

In November 1990, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported that Knockel last had contact with family members on Monday, November 12, and that Knockel’s car was last seen by a family member the morning of November 13, parked along U.S. Route 151 less than one mile east of the Dubuque-Wisconsin bridge near the “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign on the roadway’s south side.

Knockel, a lifelong bachelor with no children, missed his usual Thanksgiving dinner with relatives and they reported him missing the following Monday after he failed to show up at a job at the Swiss Colony mail order gift warehouse in Monroe, Wisconsin, Dubuque police told the Telegraph Herald. Police also said Knockel was last seen Friday, November 17, driving along a highway in Grant County, Wisconsin.

The exact date of Knockel’s official disappearance is unknown.

WHO-TV’s Aaron Brilbeck reported on Oct. 8, 2010 about Knockel’s unsolved disappearance as part of Channel 13’s weekly Iowa cold case series. His report follows.


Story by WHO-TV Channel 13 Reporter Aaron Brilbeck | Oct. 8, 2010

DUBUQUE, IA — It’s a cold case that brings us all the way to the woods of Wisconsin. An Iowa man disappeared; even his car vanished along Highway 151.

dubuque-man-reported-missing-whotv

Courtesy photo Telegraph Herald and WHO-TV

Police still have no clues about what happened to Paul Knockel or where he went.

They say someone just can’t vanish. But Tim Westemeyer of Des Moines disagrees.

“People do vanish,” Westemeyer said in an interview with Channel 13’s Aaron Brilbeck for a story that aired Oct. 8, 2010. “I’m not sure how they do vanish. But I know for a fact that they just up and vanish.” And Westemeyer should know. Twenty years ago, his uncle did just that.

It was November of 1990, and Paul Knockel of Dubuque didn’t show up for Thanksgiving dinner with his family. That wasn’t like him. Knockel, who never married and never had children, lived for spending time with family.

“The fun times we had with him as kids,” nephew Dennis Noel remembers. “Growing up and everything. Some of the fun things that we did together, I guess as an uncle and nephew.”

WHO-TV’s Aaron Brilbeck reports on Paul Knockel’s unsolved disappearance. Air Date: Oct. 8, 2010

Concerned, family members went to Knockel’s house at 2105 Washington Street. They found his wallet and watch, even his shoes. But Knockel and his car were gone. The next day, the family spotted what they thought was his car — a 1981 red Mercury Zephyr, parked along Route 151 just over the Wisconsin border. A few hours later the car was gone. It, and Knockel, haven’t been seen since.

Family members believe he may have been abducted at his home and murdered.

1981-red-mercury-zephyr
Courtesy photo WHO-TV
Neither Paul Knockel nor his red 1981 Mercury Zephyr have been seen since November 1990.

“I think he was murdered, yes,” Noel said. “I would have to say that was what happened. There was no accident involved.”

Family members say that would explain why Knockel’s shoes and wallet — things he had with him every day — were left behind.

“Yeah. He definitely knew something was happening,” Noel said. “His wallet was on the kitchen table and his good shoes were left there and everything. We didn’t even know what he had on for shoes when he left but apparently he knew something bad was coming down.”

The question is, why.

Knockel was a simple man. He went to work every day and didn’t go out much. Family members say he had a learning disability, but he would never just take off. Police say he didn’t appear to have any enemies or be involved in anything he shouldn’t have been.

lt-scott-baxter-dubuque-police Courtesy photo WHO-TV
Lt. Scott Baxter

“[He] doesn’t seem to be,” said Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter. “Everybody we talked to, our investigation, just the totality of the investigation, there’s nothing to indicate this individual led a seedy lifestyle. He didn’t have any drug or alcohol problems. Didn’t drink much at all.”

After the disappearance, police scoured the wooded area where family members saw the car. No clues turned up.

Since then, police have followed up on dozens of leads. Again, nothing. Investigators believe Knockel may have wound up in the Mississippi River either by accident, or as a suicide or homicide. But that’s just a theory.

“The river does create a different kind of spin on our community,” Lt. Baxter said. “Strong currents. And generally speaking we usually recover bodies that are disposed of in the river. Not all the time. And depending on the circumstances, if the body is contained in a vehicle, that creates another challenge to us as well.”

In other words, a body in a car won’t always come to the surface. Police plan to follow up on any leads, but admit they’re no closer to solving this case today than they were 20 years ago. The family wants answers, and they want to give Knockel a proper burial if he is dead. They say a simple man, a good man who never hurt anyone, deserves that.

“Yes. It would give him peace,” Westemeyer said. “It would give us all peace, too.”

About Paul Knockel

Paul Joseph Knockel was born October 26, 1937, and was 53 years old at the time he went missing.

Paul wore metal rimmed glasses and was dependent on corrective lenses. He also wore both upper and lower dentures.

Earlier in his life, Paul was injured in an industrial accident and suffered severe breaks in his lower right leg and ankle. His right leg would show evidence of the breaks as well as surgical scars.

He has no known tattoos.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Paul Knockel’s unsolved disappearance please contact Lt. Scott Baxter at the Dubuque Police Department at (563) 589-4410.

Sources:

 

12 Responses to Paul Knockel

  1. Theresa says:

    Is it possible he could be: NamUs UP Case Number: 10363

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Theresa, the resemblances (particularly nose and square jaw) are remarkable. The page at https://identifyus.org/en/cases/10363 doesn’t provide a “ruled out” list, but at least DNA samples have been submitted even though tests are not yet complete.

      The age, estimated date of death, and height are right on target as well. They believe UP # 10363 was placed in a cooler and frozen for an unknown period of time before later being placed in the river, and the body could have washed down to the gulf area or the perpetrator could have driven further down river before dumping the body.

      I’m going to check with my contact person at NamUs to see if she can give me any timeline as to when they expect the DNA results or whether they’ve already ruled out Paul Knockel. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. I wish for some some closure for his family and friends. know you are in my thoughts.

  3. Cathy Dick says:

    this is my Uncle…if anyone out there has ANY information, please contact the Dubuque police. Closure is so important for families of missing individuals…

  4. I am assuming this article is 3 years old, if not recent. Either way, according to this, they have not found him OR his vehicle. The family saw it, but went back and it was gone and never seen again. Is this information correct? According to a family friend in the post, the article is incorrect. Granted it has been 23 years since he disappeared, something as simple as wether they found the car or not, could play a big role in the closure for the family. We, the public could be looking for a vehicle that has been found, our not looking for a vehicle that we should be looking for. That can hold a lot of clues as to his disappearance. Can someone give accurate up to date info on this? I hope he is found for the families closure. I know what it is like to have the emptiness left in those left behind by such circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with the family

  5. Sandy Newcomb-hagen, in Aaron Brilbeck’s story on Paul Knockel (aired Oct. 8, 2010), the ICC page states that Knockel’s relatives spotted what they “thought” was his car, but that a few hours later it was gone. Toward the end of the story, Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter is quoted as saying that even though they usually recover bodies that are disposed of in the river, that “depending on the circumstances, if the body is contained in a vehicle, that creates another challenge to us as well.” According to Aaron’s story and his interview with Lt. Baxter, neither Paul Knockel nor his car were ever located. The person who posted a comment about the car being found said Knockel was the uncle of a friend, but provided no further details. I’ll check with the Dubuque PD to confirm whether or not what she said is true. Thank you for writing and your concerns for Paul’s family. All best, Jody at ICC

  6. Cathy Dick says:

    His car has never been found. He was my uncle.

  7. Diana Wilson says:

    Wow! His car has never been either either???? How do you hide a car????

  8. Probably in a pond or lake???

  9. Cathy Dick says:

    He has literally fallen off the face of the earth….but his killer(s) is/are the only one (s) who know where he is. He was not capable of going elsewhere to live on his own.

  10. I’ll never forget that time in my young life!! I was only 10, but I still have lots of memories of him!

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts