Daniel Reaves sent his girlfriend a cryptic text before he vanished from a small town. They weren’t fighting so there wasn’t a reason for him to leave her house in the middle of the night - yet his car was found almost a week later across town. What happened to Daniel Reaves?
Daniel Reaves was a 25-year-old, with a long-term girlfriend and a young child, when he mysteriously vanished from Madison, IN, in the early morning hours of May 4, 2008. Described by his family as being shy, but happy, Daniel loved computers and had been attending Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, IN, as recently as the fall semester of 2007. His family stated that he may have suffered from anxiety, but they did not believe he was depressed or angry, and to their knowledge, his life seemed to be “in perfect order.”
Daniel goes missing
The night before he disappeared, May 3, 2008, Daniel was hanging out with his girlfriend of seven years, Sara Schafer, at her house on East Schafer Road in Jefferson County, IN. They watched TV until Sara fell asleep—by her account, around 2 a.m. on May 4, 2008. Sara awoke around 4 a.m. to a text message from Daniel that said, “I love you.” He was no longer at her house, and his car was also gone. Sara called him back, but he didn’t answer. His text message was the last time anyone heard from Daniel. At the time of his disappearance, Daniel was 5’11” tall and clean-shaven, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing long denim or khaki shorts, a blue or white t-shirt covered by a button-down shirt, tan suede shoes, and a black faux-leather jacket.
Daniel’s parents reported him missing to police when he didn’t return home from Sara’s house. Law enforcement opened an investigation and got what seemed like a break in the case when they located Daniel’s car nearly a week later on May 10, 2008. The gold 1999 Chrysler Sebring had been abandoned along Green Hills Drive in Madison, IN, almost a half-hour away from Sara’s home. Reports state that it had been parked there since around 11 p.m. on May 3, 2008, which contradicts Sara’s statement that she was awake and with Daniel until around 2 a.m. on May 4. If she and Daniel watched TV until 2 a.m., how did his car get to Green Hills Drive at 11 p.m. the night before? Is it merely a faulty memory of the timeline, or could the discrepancy hold a key to unlocking answers in this unsolved case?
Still missing after nearly 14 years
Even after finding Daniel’s car, police and family members are baffled by his disappearance. Processing the vehicle didn’t turn up any clues as to where Daniel might have gone, or why the car was there to begin with. According to investigators, the car was unlocked when they found it, and Daniel’s wallet, money, ID, and credit cards were still inside. His cell phone and keys, however, were not. Cell phone records indicated that Daniel’s phone has not been used since the night he disappeared. State and local law enforcement agencies also conducted searches of the areas around where Daniel’s car was found, including nearby Clifty Falls State Park, where Daniel was known to go hiking in the past. Nothing came of their search efforts.
At the time, police were unsure whether foul play was involved, or if Daniel simply decided to go off the grid. To this day, his family insists that Daniel would not have voluntarily walked away from his life and loved ones.
Where the case stands today
Daniel Reaves’s case is still unsolved, and his family continues to hold out hope that someone who knows something about Daniel’s disappearance will come forward with the answers they seek.
There is currently a $1,000 reward for information leading to the location of Daniel Reaves. To be eligible for the reward, tips must first be reported to Kentuckiana Crime Stoppers at 502-582-CLUE (2583). Anyone with information about this case can also contact the Indiana State Police District Investigative Commander at 812-689-5000 or 800-566-6704 or the Madison Police at 812-265-3347.