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1 year later, Haider's disappearance remains a mystery

Press Photo by Bryan Horwath A work site near the area where Eric Haider was last seen in north Dickinson lays unattended Thursday evening. Haider disappeared following his workday on May 24, 2012.1 / 2
Eric Haider2 / 2

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of her son's disappearance, Maryellen Suchan fought back tears Thursday while explaining what her emotions have been like this week.

"He's on my mind every single day," Suchan said. "I can still see his face from that morning when I dropped him off for work -- the day he went missing. He gave me a quick kiss and a squeeze and looked back and said 'I love you, ma.'"

That day was May 24, 2012, when Eric Haider, who would turn 32 on June 9, was reported last seen at a job site in north Dickinson, near the Baker Hughes complex. Living in Bismarck at the time, Haider was working for Cofell's Plumbing & Heating, though no one saw him return to Bismarck that day with other Cofell employees.

Over the course of the past year, a number of rumors have circulated surrounding the missing person case. One was that he was accidentally buried at the job site, where crews were digging. Another was that foul play was involved. Yet another pondered the possibility of Haider disappearing by design in order to escape debts that he may have had.

A full 365 days later, however, there are no more answers to the disappearance than there were the night he didn't come home.

"We have, in the last four or five months, talked to a number of people as leads or phone calls have come in," said Dickinson Police Sgt. Kylan Klauzer, the lead investigator on the case. "I've made a number of trips out of the area to visit with people and we have a couple of other agencies helping us out, doing some things. It's been slow, but it's an active case. We're trying to do whatever we can."

Suchan -- who recently moved to South Dakota with her husband, Dan Suchan -- said she doesn't believe her son is buried at the site in Dickinson. However, she added that she doesn't think he's alive today, either.

Suchan said she has been adamant from day one that Haider didn't disappear on his own accord.

"He did not walk off the job site," Suchan said. "I believe there was foul play. I believe Eric was caught in the middle of something, that he knew something he shouldn't have known. I have spent many, many hours up at that job site and I just don't believe he's there. Whoever did this and took Eric's life also took my life."

Suchan said one of the things about the case that has never made sense to her is the silence of Cofell.

"We have not heard a word from them," she said. "Somebody (at Cofell) knows something. They got their company attorney right away. Why would they do that? We're not accusing them of anything, but the fact that they never talked to the family or gave condolences, we don't understand that."

Cofell owner Jay Cofell made a statement Thursday about Haider's disappearance through email, saying: "As it is limited what Cofell's knows, this we can say: Cofell's considers the health and safety of its employees an important priority. The company and its employees, have and will continue to extend their fullest cooperation possible, to the authorities. This may not answer all questions, but rest assured we have concerns and thoughts for Eric, his family, all employees, and the public."

A Facebook page dedicated to finding Haider titled "Eric Haider We Miss you and want you home!" has nearly 700 members. It is a vehicle Haider's 12-year-old daughter Brynn Hastings still uses to write messages to her dad.

Suchan said an account has also been set up through Wells Fargo that is designed to serve partially as a reward for anyone who comes forward with information leading to the solving of the case. Donations to the fund can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

"I know Sgt. Klauzer is doing everything he can to find out what happened to Eric," Suchan said. "The Dickinson police haven't given up and that's comforting to know. This has been the hardest year of my life and I just hope we get some answers at some point. Somebody out there knows something."

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Eric Haider can contact the Dickinson Police Department at 701-456-7759.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
(701) 456-1207
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