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Family plans funeral for missing Leader man - Peter Achermann disappeared 9 years ago

Peter Achermann1 / 2
In July of 2014, Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch (left) talks while Desiree and Jorg Achermann embrace at the site where Peter Achermann’s car was discovered. To date he still has not been found. Brainerd Dispatch File Photo/Steve Kohls2 / 2

It has been nine years since Peter Achermann left to run errands and never returned home.

Achermann was 82 when he went missing on July 24, 2009 after leaving his home in Leader to pick up groceries and his wife's medication in Staples. His abandoned vehicle was found the following day. Despite searches and a substantial reward, no trace was ever found.

His family will have his funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at St. Michael Catholic Church in Motley, with a celebration of his life at the family farm in Leader.

"We still miss him so much," Desiree Achermann-Lancaster said of her father. "There are so many things we want to ask him and things we want to share with him. He was a very wise man and we always looked up to him for guidance and support.

"It has been nine years, but it is still so hard to talk about."

Achermann-Lancaster said before her father disappeared he wrote about his life in a memoir titled, "The Journey of a Lifetime," with help from his niece Rebecca Achermann. She said in the memoir he speaks of how he would like his family to take care of his funeral and do it in a simple way. She said he states if it is summer the family should provide cold beverages and if it's winter they should provide hot alcoholic beverages.

"We haven't been able to bring him home, but we can provide him with a funeral," Achermann-Lancaster said. "He was a devoted Catholic."

Achermann-Lancaster said her mother, Delaine Achermann, is now 83 years old and "she is not getting any younger. She would like to have this done before her passing." Achermann-Lancaster said the family has talked about having a funeral for years, and now is the time. She said friends told the family it will help bring closure, but Achermann-Lancaster isn't so sure. She said closure would be knowing what happened to her father.

"There is absolutely nothing pointing in any direction on what happened to him," she said. "His car is the only thing we ever found. Someone knows something and if we can get his story out then maybe someone will remember something happening. It has been nine years and we don't have a photo of him for the past nine years, so planning a funeral without current photos is odd."

Achermann was last seen on Warner Road, by the Crow Wing River Bridge, on the afternoon of July 24, 2009. His vehicle, described as a light blue 1995 Chevrolet Caprice Wagon, was located in a mud hole off Cass County Road 32, as though it was stuck, at the end of a minimum maintenance road on July 25, 2009.

The family reported surveillance cameras showed Peter Achermann appeared fine as he picked up groceries at Ernie's in Staples. Despite extensive searches of the area, there has been no trace of Achermann.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said the case is still under investigation.

"We are still encouraging the public to give us any information they can to help us solve this case," Burch said. "We haven't received a lot of leads lately. Usually when these stories run it generates some calls from the public, but we haven't received anything."

The sheriff's office continues to work with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and is committed to solving the disappearance. There is still a $20,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person/persons responsible for the disappearance, if the disappearance is the result of foul play.

Achermann was described as a white man, about 5-feet-9-inches tall, 175 pounds and with a black and gray beard who generally walked with a cane.

Anyone with information, tips or leads on Achermann's whereabouts is asked to contact the sheriff's office at 800-450-2677, 218-547-1424 or 911.

Achermann was declared deceased on July 24, 2013, for legal reasons, his daughter said.

According to Achermann's obituary, he was born on May 21, 1927, to Heinrich and Berta Achermann in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland. Peter was baptized, confirmed and served as an alter boy at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Neuhausen, Switzerland.

Achermann immigrated to the United States in 1949. He worked a succession of jobs as a hired hand in the commercial farming industry. He purchased and worked on a farm in Bell River and Millerville. On April 13, 1953, Achermann married Delaine Voigt at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Bell River. They have four sons and four daughters, 22 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.