Real Name: Michael J. Eschweiler
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Fraud, Forgery
Missing Since: September 1995
Details: Brett Pabst, one of the heirs to the Pabst Brewing Company millions, and Michael Eschweiler, a custom builder of extensive designer homes who was one of many architects in his family, appeared to be the ideal couple. They first met in 1984, and were in a seven-year relationship until they married in 1991 and built their lakefront dream home in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Although they both had been married to others before, they vowed that this marriage would last. Then, on June 23, 1994, Brett and Michael were at breakfast when she reminded him about dinner plans with friends that evening. Michael said that he'd call her later. He said goodbye, drove off, and was never seen again.
The couple had a pact that if they were going to be even fifteen minutes late, they would call each other. When Michael failed to call or come home that night, Brett became extremely worried. She called several hospitals, but no one had been admitted matching his description. She filed a missing persons report, and then contacted Michael's daughter from his first marriage. When she was informed that her father had disappeared, she said, "Oh no, not again."
Brett was shocked to learn that Michael had abandoned his first wife and their three children back in 1976. He had vanished without a trace for six years, apparently to get away from over $500,000 in business debts. Brett was shocked that her husband had done this to them; she feared that he may have done it again to her. She began looking through Michael's business records and found unpaid bills, checks forged with her signature, and fraudulent credit card receipts. It had appeared that Michael again had walked away from his financial problems. In this case, his debt was over $1 million.
Michael's friend and business partner James Lamer was shocked as well. James was his chief carpenter for nine years. Michael's business problems translated into a sizable debt as well as several angry clients left with unfinished homes. James believed everything he said until it was too late. As investigators continued to look into Michael's past, they discovered that he had five social security numbers, several credit cards, as well as a bank account under another identity.
For eight months, there was no trace of Michael. Then, in February of 1995, he reportedly showed up at an ex-girlfriend's home in Houston, Texas. She had already been in contact with Brett and knew about Michael's deceptions. When he visited her, he tried to make her feel bad for him. He claimed that he was merely a bad businessman who had lost all of his money. He also claimed that he was homeless. However, she noticed that he was wearing nicely pressed jeans and a polo shirt. Furthermore, he had a new haircut. She tried to convince him to turn himself in. He promised to do so by the end of the week.
However, Michael never turned himself in and hasn't been seen since. In November of 1994, Brett annulled her marriage and has vowed to do everything in her power to bring him to justice. He was last seen in Houston in September of 1995.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 3, 1995 episode.
Results: Captured. After the second broadcast of the case in January of 1996, Eschweiler turned himself over to the FBI in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been living at a local YMCA and was working for a floor installation company. Surprisingly, he was still using his own name. He was found guilty of theft in August of 1996. He was released from prison in 2000.
Sadly, Brett Pabst passed away in 2016; she was seventy-five.
- Michael Eschweiler on Unsolved Archive
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- Fugitive surrenders after featured on TV
- 'Vanished' Contractor Reappears
- Missing man turns himself in
- Dropping Out of Society Gets More and More Difficult
- Michael Eschweiler Prison Profile
- Brett Pabst Obituary