Bill Schubmehl

Photo by Mike Sakal

Bill Schubmehl was reported missing by his wife, Janelle, but he had gone to a church choir practice without telling her, causing her to panic and call Avon Lake police.

AVON LAKE - Bill Schubmehl couldn’t understand what the big deal was when he got home from choir practice just after noon on Oct. 29.

But there in his front yard on Highland Avenue stood some neighbors, several Avon Lake police officers and his wife, Janelle.

What the 86-year-old retired high school chemistry teacher didn’t know was that his wife had reported him missing about two hours earlier.

As Schubmehl got out of the car, he said everyone but Janelle was all smiles — until she realized he had arrived home. Her report that he was missing was just a case of miscommunication with his wife, Schubmehl said.

“I was oblivious to everything,” he said.

Janelle explained that sometimes the couple sleeps in after a late night of watching TV. But this day he got up earlier than usual and left with his friend for choir practice at St. Malachi Church on Cleveland’s West Side.

He inadvertently left his cell phone on the charger at home and let his wife sleep.

"I woke up and he was nowhere to be found," she said. "I looked all over, but couldn't find him. Then, I realized it was about 10 o'clock or 10:30, so I started asking the neighbors if they had seen him. No one had and I asked them if I should call the police, and they told me I should — so I did."

Avon Lake police Lt. Scott Fishburn said that the call came in as a missing-person report. Although it was a premature call, police canvassed the Schubmehls’ property, the neighborhood and the nearby bike path.

"The police were great," Janelle said. "They looked all over for him. A detective even came out to help in the search."

Happy with how it ended, Janelle reminded her husband — and others — "When you leave or go somewhere, let someone know. Leave a note."

Contact this reporter at, or 440-871-5797.

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