It’s been three months since Nancy Dubovich saw her brother Terry Fodemski.
Nancy and her husband, George, made a visit to her brother’s Winfield home Oct. 27. She wanted to check on the now-65-year-old man who had been “having issues.” His emotions and personality had changed.
He was spending money he didn’t have and constantly misplacing essential everyday items like his house and car keys. He was refusing to take medication for his depression and bipolar schizophrenia — disorders he had dealt with most of his life.
He wasn’t acting like Nancy’s “calm and happy” brother.
Worried, the Dubovichs confronted him and asked to assist him in getting help from a doctor, but Fodemski “became aggravated and offensive,” and refused.
Fourteen days later, Nov. 10, Fodemski was reported missing.
Fodemski hasn’t returned home since and is on a Silver Alert in Indiana.
“There’s been no closure,” Nancy said. “It’s like living your worst nightmare every day.”
More than 1,200 missing person flyers offering a $5,000 reward have been handed out and posted at local businesses, churches and offices throughout Lake County, in hopes that someone has information on Fodemski.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department along with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Crown Point Fire Rescue, Lakes of the Four Seasons Volunteer Fire Force and other investigating authorities have conducted multiple air, land and water searches in the Winfield/Crown Point area.
So far, they all have come up empty-handed.
The Dubovichs made a visit to Fodemski’s home Nov. 9, the day before he was reported missing. He wasn’t returning phone calls and the voicemail box was full.
When they arrived, the couple found the lights on in the home, car parked in the garage and medication left behind.
“Terry wasn’t there. We called one of his close friends to check where he could be, and he said, ‘Well, I bet he just went down to one of the businesses a couple blocks away,’” something that wasn’t abnormal for Fodemski to do, George said.
“A lot of businesses in the area knew him. He was a regular customer,” Nancy said. “Everybody we’ve talked to said he would go in and talk to them often. He was a gentleman. Very friendly and polite to them and their business.”
The two decided to leave a note, asking Fodemski to “please call us when you get home.”
That note never moved and the phone call never came.
The last time anyone had talked to Fodemski was Nov. 3. He made phone calls to some family members and a co-worker at Jewel-Osco in Crown Point, where he worked until late July.
Some neighbors told the Dubovichs they had seen him but couldn’t recall a specific day.
George said he believes Fodemski took off on foot and is still in the Winfield area.
“We really thought early on that he just walked away. We could not figure out where he would have went,” George said. “He could be in the surrounding woods or ponds. We don’t know.
Copies of Fodemski’s missing person flyer lay on a coffee table in Dubovich’s Valparaiso home.
Nancy sits quietly, hands together grasping a facial tissue. With tears in her eyes, she stares at the photo of her younger brother — one that has been shared by thousands on Facebook and Twitter.
The two grew up in Glen Park, a neighborhood in Gary.
“We would always play cowboys and Indians. He would dress up in his hat like a cowboy and I’d be a serving girl all dressed up serving drinks. My oldest brother would also be in it, too. He was always the sheriff,” Nancy said of her brother, Richard, who died in a car-train accident in 1976. “We did a lot of dressing up in costumes for play acting.”
The siblings weren’t afraid to get dirty either. They’d frequently gather neighborhood kids and play sandlot baseball.
Baseball was Terry’s favorite, Nancy said.
“He loved playing and was always really big on collecting baseball cards. He had quite a few collections of some stars,” Nancy said. “He always thought they would be worth something one day.”
With no answers to Fodemski’s disappearance, the Dubovichs took the advice of a friend and turned to a psychic in Pennsylvania for help.
George said he was shocked by the details the psychic gave in a 50-minute phone call.
Having no background knowledge of the investigation, the psychic was able to “make a connection with Terry’s spirit” and map out the exact route he took, “block by block, perfectly.”
“She said he intended not to come back. He wanted to be in the water. He wanted to be back with his mother, which made sense as far as how he was dealing with his depression,” George said.
Nancy’s mother, Sylvia, died Dec. 8, 2016. After her death, Fodemski would continue to live in his parents' Winfield home alone.
“We thought she could be valid,” Nancy said, adding that the psychic refused to take a payment for her services.
The two went to police with the psychic’s findings.
Authorities took search dogs to a pond near Fodemski’s home. The ice-covered area didn’t provide any clues to where the missing man could be.
“They plan on going out there to search more ponds, but we’re in a deep freeze now, so we’re looking at a couple months before that can even happen,” George said.
The Dubovichs are asking residents with acreage, especially with ponds, in the Winfield and Crown Point area to check their properties.
“It’s not impossible that he could come back — that’d be the best case — but, we have to be realistic,” George said. “It’s been very difficult, like a dark cloud that continues to hang over you.”
Fodemski is described as 6 feet 3 inches tall, 190 pounds, blond hair with blue eyes, possibly wearing a gray coat, blue dress shirt and black pants.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Detective Reggie Sanders at 219-755-3346 or 219-660-0023.
“We miss him terribly,” Nancy said. “We want to pick up where we left off.”