By David Skolnick
With the sun setting, about 150 people attended a candlelight vigil outside the home of Jon Schoenike, an attorney and Springfield school board vice president, who has mysteriously disappeared.
A tearful Lynn Maro, his wife of 22 years and partner in their law firm, said Saturday that “if there is a way for him to get home, I believe with every fiber of his being, he’ll get home.”
Schoenike put a pork roast in the oven of his family’s East Middletown Road home Friday morning, did some weeding, and hasn’t been seen since.
His 2004 Ford Excursion — with his cellphone, keys and a broken watch that worked earlier in the day — was found around 10:30 a.m. Friday at Boardman Tennis and Swim Club on West Boulevard in Boardman, Maro said. That is near the couple’s law office, but Schoenike wasn’t a member of the club, and there is no reason why he would be there, she said.
The FBI is assisting Springfield police in the search for Schoenike.
Those at Saturday night’s quickly organized vigil hugged one another, cried and offered words of encouragement, then surrounded the house holding candles.
“We come together to ask for prayers and support for this family, for Jon,” said Kathy Lipp, who serves on the Springfield school board with the missing man. “We have each other and support each other.”
Maro called her husband a “truly amazing man,” and said he “was a positive influence in so many lives. So many people told me how special he was in their lives.”
Maro is praying for the safe return of her husband of 22 years, but said, “Something happened” and “it wasn’t good. We need your prayers to help us give him strength.”
His wife said Schoenike, who primarily worked at their home, is “out there and he needs us.”
She acknowledged that in cases like this, law enforcement tends to believe people just leave their families.
“He would have not walked away,” she said. “He was too strong of a man. We believe he’s out there. We believe he’s in trouble.”
Maro said she and her two daughters — Audrey, 19, and Katelyn, 17 — are overwhelmed by the support of family friends, fellow parishioners at the New Springfield Church of God, and neighbors.
Maro urged anyone who saw or heard her husband’s vehicle — which, she said, is diesel-fueled and makes a lot of noise — to contact law enforcement. She urged anyone who has surveillance cameras along any roadways between Boardman and New Springfield to see if he or his car was caught on tape.
Schoenike was a “man of routine,” Maro said, and wouldn’t have just left.
“He was committed to his family,” she added. Maro said she doesn’t believe her husband had any enemies.
“Wherever he is, we pray for strength and safety,” added Alan Leach, pastor of the New Springfield Church of God. “If something happened and someone else is involved, help them see [what’s been done] and help Jon get back home.”
Meanwhile, law enforcement in Portage County searched the Berlin Lake Wildlife Area on Saturday for Jeffery Hathaway of Norton, who’s been missing since Wednesday. His car was found in the area a day later.
The wildlife area of more than 8,000 acres is in Portage, Mahoning and Stark counties.
“That’s two similar things that close to each other,” Maro said. “I don’t know if [they’re] connected.”