What was 80-year-old Robert McKinnon doing for the 12 that days he was missing?

A couple of weeks ago, I was startled awake, in the middle of the night, by a "Silver Alert" on my phone. After all of the flashing and buzzing stopped, I went back to sleep and did not think about it until I read about Robert McKinnon later that morning. Nobody had seen Robert since 5:30 PM on October 1, walking away from Maple View Memory Care in Fargo. It was reported that he suffered from mobility issues and dementia, so it was definitely concerning news.

Then, there was a clue about where Robert may be! On October 2, it was reported that a surveillance camera at Love's Travel Stop in Fargo captured Robert getting into a Lincoln Town Car. Police were asking for help finding the car, but that surveillance camera lead soon came to a dead end when police decided that the person was not likely someone else, not Robert (October 3). KVRR (Fargo) has that story.

Police and fire crews did a search, spanning 4-square miles, beginning at the care facility where Robert went missing from. They brought K9s, got public tips, searched with a drone, and asked nearby properties to look at their security cameras as well as search vacant property buildings. But Robert was still nowhere to be found. KVRR has a timeline breakdown of the search.

Then, on October 13, Robert was found DECEASED 0.2 miles from where he went missing. He was inside a mostly vacant commercial building. Robert was discovered while potential buyers or renters were touring the facility. The Fargo Police say there are no signs of foul play and an autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death. Read the story from Valley News Live here.

The news report from Valley News Live says that there was no reason to believe that Robert would have been inside any of the businesses, even though police did ask that business owners would check any vacant buildings for him. Also, it was reported that the police could not just search inside of the businesses without permission or a warrant.

At this time, the above information is all the public knows about Robert's disappearance and unfortunate passing.

So, that's the background information, now I have some thoughts about what happened after the last time it was confirmed anyone saw Robert McKinnon:

  • The lead about Robert getting into a car was dismissed after it was determined that the person on camera was "likely someone else." Keyword: "LIKELY." Does that mean it is still possible that the person was Robert? "Likely" is not definite. If that is the case, they should still be looking for the car.
  • I looked at the Fargo Police K9 unit webpage. None of the K9 officers are cadaver dogs. From what is indicated on the website, at best, the dogs could have found a LIVING person. If Robert was in the building for all 12 of the days he was missing, it makes sense that he would have been missed, because the dogs would not have been smelling for a dead body.
  • Is there a camera in or near the building that would have caught Robert's actions?
  • Is it entirely believable that Robert just walked into a building and died? I mean, maybe, he did have dementia and could have been confused. But I am not sure how that would affect a person's ability to go in-and-out of a building. He did also had mobility issues, so maybe he fell and could not get up?
  • How did he manage to get into a vacant area of the building? If it was locked, he could not have just waltzed in.
  • I am having a hard time believing that he was in one mostly vacant building for 12 days, unless he died almost right away. But a person would think that the people who found him would have smelled decomposition, not just stumble across his body. But it is not clear on how he was found in the building, other than the unit was being shown to people.
  • There is another business at the other end, on the same side of the same building. Would anyone who may have been working at that business notice anything?

This is an all around terrifying story. I can't imagine how Robert's family must be feeling. I hope they can find peace and I hope Robert did not suffer before his passing.


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