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Friday, July 29, 2011

Glendale missing person cases puzzle

Glendale missing person cases puzzle

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when Glendale resident Michael Grenley left his home July 19.

He casually said goodbye to his wife of 17 years as she chatted on the phone, and then he drove away in his red Jeep.

Grenley, 41, never returned.

His family and friends are startled. Grenley is the beloved father of a 6-year-old, a man who calls his wife each day as he leaves his Chandler office. He would even call to mention a quick stop or to ask if he should pick up anything on the way to the couple's home near 75th Avenue and Deer Valley Road, wife Melissa Grenley said.

And yet, he left home just after noon on July 19 and hasn't been heard from since.

His disappearance didn't follow a fight or problems at work, his wife said.

Police, friends and family members have since called anyone he might have interacted with. They have searched places he could have taken his Jeep to off-road and flown over some areas in a helicopter. Those who have never met Grenley are searching trails across the state, Melissa Grenley said.

"Everyone keeps asking me, 'Did he just leave?' It's just really not in his character," she said. "If he felt that he needed to get away, if he couldn't tell me, he would just tell his mom."

Missing-person cases vary dramatically. One day, it's a teenage runaway. The next, a senior with dementia or a seemingly happy person will suddenly vanish.

Police try to focus their resources because of the volume of cases.

Last year, Glendale police sought nearly 1,300 missing people.

Reports that are especially startling, involve vulnerable victims or come with significant clues tend to get the most attention, said Mario Sanchez, a Glendale detective who has investigated disappearances for about five years.

Each case is unique and presents different challenges, the detective said.

Many, like the disappearance of Michael Grenley, don't seem logical.

Police have sought cellphone and debit-card records for Grenley.

The man's debit card hasn't been used and his cellphone battery has either died or been removed, his wife said.

Those searching for Grenley long to find him safe. They don't know what to make of his disappearance.

The resolutions to missing-persons cases are often astounding. They can end with the revelation that someone traveled without notifying friends or wanted to get away. Or the missing person can show up somewhere, unfazed.

The prognosis seemed grim for a Glendale senior who went missing last month.

The 68-year-old with dementia walked into a west Phoenix business the next day, saying he was there for the party.

"How he got there, we don't know," Sanchez said.

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