LAS VEGAS — Investigators say they have sifted through hundreds of tips and leads supplied by the public about an unusual disappearance in northern Nevada. After the I-Team first reported last summer that the disappearance of an elderly Reno man could be linked to a serial killer operating along Interstate 80, the family of Patrick Carnes has done everything it could to keep the story in the mind of the public.
It turns out there have been several unsolved murders in that area, along with vanishings that are eerily similar to the Carnes case. After the I-Team stories aired, an FBI serial killer task force offered to help Nevada lawmen, but they did not keep that pledge. So, where does it stand? Investigators and the Carnes family still want the public’s help.
Interstate 80 is one of the nation’s most vital arteries, it carries untold numbers of travelers each day. It’s most desolate link is the asphalt ribbon that slices through northern Nevada. At night, inky darkness swallows everything. Some call the road “The Big Lonely.”
For 10 excruciating months, the Carnes brothers of Reno have been criss-crossing Nevada towns and pit stops intersected by 1-80, talking to residents, putting up flyers, trying to figure out what happened to their father, Patrick Carnes and his dog companion, Lucky.
A series of I-Team reports last summer and subsequent media coverage, including the Coast to Coast AM radio show, generated hundreds of tips from the public. The family recently leased a billboard near the town of Golconda, hoping to keep Pat Carnes’ story alive.
“We are still wondering, what the heck happened? We are maintaining as best we can,” said Jim Carnes, the son of the missing man.
The family’s hopes were buoyed again by recent coverage from America’s Most Wanted which generated a flood of tips into the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, but according to Undersheriff Curtiss Kull, there is nothing new that looks like a case breaker.
“I got one that he was on the corner of an intersection in Iowa, to spring break south of Elko,” said Kull.
And the one unsettling theory Kull can’t dismiss is that this might be the work of a serial killer, or a team of killers.
“My gut tells me there’s two people involved, just for logistics,” said Kull.
The facts are Pat Carnes was traveling with his dog, driving from Toledo, Ohio to his home in Reno. But the trip ended 20 miles east of Wimmemucca. In mid-April of last year, a local resident spotted Carnes’ car sitting in a field at an I-80 off ramp. It looked like it had been dumped there. There was no sign of violence in the car and no usable prints.
Extensive searches by air and land were conducted by law enforcement. Curtis Kull says another extensive survey was just completed a few weeks ago but no sign was found of Pat Carnes or Lucky. Most chilling is that five years earlier, in the same spot, off the same highway exit, a car driven by a Reno woman, Judith Casita was found, abandoned. Casita has never been found either. But in the Carnes case, police have a dash cam video recorded by an NHP trooper who was about to cite a trucker when Carnes drove past. The trooper pursued Carnes and pulled him over six miles east of Wells, Nevada. Carnes remarked that he had been traveling in tandem with a trucker.
“I’m only following him because he is going to Elko,” Carnes told the trooper.
Kull has followed hundreds of leads about the possible identity of the truck or the logo on the trailer. None have panned out, so far. The family suspects that Pat Carnes might have been befriended along his route by a trucker, maybe even a husband and wife, and that the duo is involved in his disappearance.
The Carnes family has enlisted the help of a psychic but she came up with no usable leads. They have a hunch that the people responsible live near I-80. In addition to the one psychic who offered to help, the I-Team made a request to a group of remote viewers, people who use methods developed for U.S. Intelligence agencies. In a controlled test, in which the viewers were given no details about Pat Carnes, they determined that a man had been abducted in the high desert by two people, both foreigners. In a practical sense, that isn’t much to go on but the I-Team passed along the information to police.