Searchers scoured the rugged terrain in and surrounding a northern Arizona canyon Thursday after the car of a missing Twin Cities man was found at a scenic overlook, authorities there said.
Shaun Rentz, 27, was reported missing to Ramsey County authorities after he failed to meet with friends over the weekend and then didn't show up to move in with friends at their new home in the Twin Cities on Monday, according to the Coconino County Sheriff's Office.
Meagan Weigelt, of Minneapolis, said Thursday that she received a text message late last week from Rentz. She said that they had dated on and off since 2009, but she hadn't seen him since March.
Weigelt said friends of Rentz told her that he had just put in a leave of absence for two weeks from his work at a senior living center.
Weigelt said he told her in the text that "I need you in my life," which followed a voice mail from him earlier in the week "sounding a little sad, not himself, I guess."
She said she's "in shock" about Rentz's disappearance, adding that the graduate of White Bear Lake High School has never done anything like this before.
Rentz's car was found at Oak Creek Canyon scenic overlook on Tuesday, and searchers are now focusing on that area, said sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair.
The initial search involved sheriff's deputies, rescue personnel and a state Department of Public Safety helicopter. Thursday's hunt for Rentz was focused strictly on the ground and included a technical rescue team rappelling down a difficult trail into the canyon, Blair said.
Even though "we don't know why he left Minnesota," Blair said, authorities have begun a "parallel criminal investigation" that is "working with the family to determine whether [Rentz] was voluntarily missing."
Blair said the family has indicated that Rentz has had "maybe a little stress" in his life of late, but it's been "nothing to the point that would make him take off and not talk to people."
While climbers are rescued from time to time in the canyon area, Blair said, "I don't know that we've dealt with a missing person's vehicle at that spot."
"This is kind of a perplexing one," he added.
Forest Service personnel found the car on Monday and left a sticker on the windshield indicating that overnight parking or camping in the lot was prohibited. On Tuesday, they reported to the Sheriff's Office that the car was still there with the sticker unmoved, and that's when authorities determined that the car belonged to Rentz.
Rentz is described as white, 6 feet 4 inches tall, 215 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Coconino Sheriff's Office at 1-928-774-4523 or 1-800-338-7888.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482