Monday, May 10, 1999

Son still hopes to
find missing father

Michael Stahl of Maui
mysteriously disappeared
more than a year ago

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- Alexander Stahl has more questions than answers about the disappearance of his father, who was reported missing on Maui more than a year ago.

From his home on Kauai, the younger Stahl still sends out requests to the news media and public for help in finding what happened to his father, Avis Rent-A-Car supervisor Michael Stahl.

Michael Stahl's car was found stuck in the sand and lodged under a kiawe tree at La Perouse Bay on March 25, 1998.

A land and helicopter search found no trace of him.

His son said it didn't make sense that Stahl would take his personal car to La Perouse, because the reverse shift was not working well.

Stahl also wasn't the type to hike alone and was more likely to spend his days off at a beach park near his home, he said.

Friends say there was no indication Stahl might commit suicide, and they fear he may have been killed.

"I really suspect someone did him in," said Paul Larson, a sales agent for Avis in Kona, where Stahl lived for three years before moving to Maui.

Friends say Stahl was looking forward to the arrival of his new wife from the Philippines in a few months, and moved to the Valley Isle to become a supervisor for Avis in September 1997.

Maui police Lt. Glenn Cuomo said the case has been classified as a "missing person."

"We've not determined what happened to him," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said a hardware store in Kahului identified Stahl as buying an exhaust hose for a clothes drier on March 24, 1998.

"We believe it had been attached to the (car) exhaust. However, there was not a trace of him," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said detectives found a supermarket receipt in Stahl's company car, parked near Azeka Place Shopping Center, which was dated March 26, 1998, a day after a search began for him.

"That's where really the mystery is," Cuomo said.

"We haven't determined the ownership of the receipt."

Alexander Stahl said his father planned to bring his wife to Hawaii but needed to get a visa for her and also a $250,000 life insurance policy.

"He told me he had to show financial responsibility and one way of doing it was to show a large insurance policy since his job didn't pay much. He had bad credit."

Michael Stahl's wife, Patricia, who now lives on Molokai, said she was the beneficiary of Stahl's life insurance policy through Avis.

She said she doesn't know the details of the policy.

Patricia Stahl said she met her husband through Sunshine International pen pals several years ago and was married to him in the Philippines in 1997.

She said she was waiting in the Philippines to obtain clearance from authorities before immigrating to Hawaii, when her husband disappeared.

He wrote four to five letters a week and called her once a week at her home in Pangasinan, she said.

"I love you and need you and miss you. I'm so alone without you -- I never thought being alone would be this bad -- I never minded it before, but now without you, it's very difficult," he said in a March 19, 1998, letter.

Patricia Stahl said she recently lost her job as a laborer and is planning to return to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, she -- like others -- is waiting for any new development about her husband.

E-mail to City Desk

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