Recently Missing: Tommy Howe

Tommy Howe is a 24 year old who seems to have everything going for him. The recent college graduate was living the city life, in downtown Chicago with some friends. However, like many, he was struggling with the effects of the pandemic. Tommy had recently told his parents that he was stressed from working at home during the pandemic, and had decided to stay with his parents longer over the holidays. The day of his disappearance he spoke with a counselor and had planned to have a late lunch with his parents.  

“He was smart enough to come home to us a little bit before Christmas and say, ‘I just think I need help with this anxiety,’” MaryMargaret Howe said. 

Everything seemed under control, and his family was not too concerned about Tommy’s feeling of anxiety. However, we he didn’t come for lunch, they quickly started to worry.

Unbeknownst to them, Tommy, in his car, had hit a guardrail around 11 a.m on Jan. 22, near Interstate 94 and Route 176 (northern Chicago suburbs). He then veered back into traffic and hit another car. Both cars stopped at the median. Though all of the airbags were deployed, Tommy was able to get out of the car. Once out, Tommy ran from the scene and into the nearby Old School Forest Preserve, leaving his cellphone in the car.    

Since, Tommy’s parents were wondering why their son had stood them up. Checking their son’s location through the “Find my Iphone” app, they lead to a tow yard. There they found the smashed remains’ of Tommy’s car.  

“At this point, we’re in a panic. We had no idea where he was,” Tom Howe said. “Was he hurt? Because the vehicle is destroyed. As a parent, it was absolutely heart-wrenching.” 

Quickly his family called the local hospitals, but when they did not find him they went to search the crash site themselves. They found nothing of value and after reporting him missing, law enforcement joined in the search. Volunteers joined as well. A few days later, they found one thing of Tommy’s, his work cell phone. But that provided no leads. 

His family worries that he may have a concussion or not know who he is. 

The Old School Forest Preserve is a 543-acre reserve in Libertyville, Illinois with it’s website describing it as “offering miles of trails, great bass fishing and secluded picnic spots in the heart of Lake County.” The nature preserve touts that it is  “first forest preserve in Illinois to blend native prairie restoration with recreation facilities. For instance, native prairie plants replace the usual mowed lawn, and parking lots are small and hidden from view among the trees,” meaning that much of it is rather remote territory and difficult to search. 

“The first thing that comes to my mind is he can think through any situation,” MaryMargaret Howe said. “It just seems like something doesn’t add up, something doesn’t make sense. 

Police had said they are still receiving reports of sightings, but so far they have not been able to confirm that any of them were Tommy. 

Last Thursday, the Antioch Police department, joined by the Illinois State Police and Lake Country Sheriff office conducted a search in a focused area that they hoped would provide information about Howe’s activities while in the preserve right after the crash.  

“Our investigators continue to follow up on every lead that has been called into our dispatch center. Our search today included help from numerous agencies, the use of a drone, and a Lake County Sheriff K-9 unit,” the police chief said on Thursday. 

“It’s a nightmare,” Tom Howe said. “Every morning we wake up and we’re getting a couple hours of sleep a night. We wake up in the morning and for about 10 seconds you think, ‘Oh I’m glad that nightmare is over,’ and then it hits us.” 

Family describes him as rule follower. He was a hard working and loving kid who would do anything to help anyone. 

Police describe Howe as  5-foot-8-inches in stature, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was  wearing a gray North Face jacket and jeans at the time of his disappearance.  

If you live close to the forest preserve area, law enforcement officials ask that you check your ring cameras.  

His mother has only one message for her son. 

 “Please know that you are not in trouble by any means,” MaryMargaret Howe said. “Anyone will graciously greet you and get you home to us. It’s all really, really OK.” 

Anyone who thinks they may have seen Howe is asked to call the CenCom Dispatch Center at 847-270-9111. 

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