New clue in Dearborn Co. man’s disappearance could lead to new searches

An Army sling backpack found near where the man disappeared gives loved ones hope he is alive.
Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT
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DEARBORN COUNTY, In. (FOX19) - A new clue possibly connected to a missing Dearborn County man could lead to more organized searches.

The past month has been overwhelming for the family of John, or Johnny, Werner. The 43-year-old disappeared on Feb. 12. According to investigators, he was last seen at his home on Trojan Road in Dearborn County.

“John has never done this before, so that’s kind of a red flag in itself, and then there’s medications that he needs, so it was a critical missing, and it still is,” Dave Rader with Texas EquuSearch Midwest said.

Despite winter weather, sheriff’s deputies, police officers and Texas EquuSearch Midwest teams have searched the surrounding area repeatedly.

“We had the helicopter up from Indiana State Police,” Rader said. “We had approximately 80 people there with 16 or so ATVs, so we covered a lot of ground.”

Rader says there has been no sign of Werner... until now.

Over the weekend, someone reportedly found an empty black Army sling backpack not far from where Werner disappeared.

Although investigators have not officially confirmed that it is connected to the case, family members believe it is a strong possibility.

“My daughter recognized it and knew that it was here at the house,” Anthony Werner, Johnny’s father, said.

Rader says the backpack did not appear to be weathered, which gives them hope that Werner is alive.

The black Army sling backpack was found not far from where 43-year-old John Werner disappeared.
The black Army sling backpack was found not far from where 43-year-old John Werner disappeared.(WXIX)

For Werner’s relatives, the discovery does leave them with lingering questions, but Rader says he and his trained volunteers are already prepared to search again.

“Got a plan together already on how I want to execute this and how I would execute it, so we’re just waiting on Dearborn County to give us the green light,” Rader said.

Family members, investigators and search crew leaders want Werner to know he is not in trouble, and they only want to confirm that he is safe.

Werner has brown eyes, light brown hair, is between 5′7″ and 5′9″ and is 220 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office at 812-537-3431.

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