One of the earlier articles
STILL NO WORD OF BURIEN MAN WHO DISAPPEARED LAST MONTH
POKER-PLAYING CAR COLLECTOR `DROPPED OFF FACE OF THE EARTH'
BY SCOTT SUNDE P-I Reporter
Friday, March 22, 1996
Section: News, Page: C1
On Feb. 21, Bob Wykel made the weekly poker game in a neighbor's basement and talked about buying an old Thunderbird he had heard about.
The next day Wykel, a 66-year-old with a zest for life, vanished. The only trace that has been found in the past month is his Mercedes coupe, which was towed from a Metro Park and Ride lot in Burien March 11.
“Basically he was last seen on the 21st of February. There's been no word since that time. There's been no activity on his bank accounts. No bills have been paid,” said Detective Earl Tripp of the King County police.
“For the most part, he dropped off the face of the earth.”
Police believe the worst may have happened to Wykel, who frequently carried several thousand dollars in cash to buy the expensive used cars that he would resell. He also wore a 2.5-carat diamond set on a white-gold ring on his left hand.
The neighbors and poker-playing buddies who noticed their friend was missing and alerted police haven't sat on their hands. Yesterday, they started distributing hundreds of missing-person fliers. Among other spots, they papered the Park and Ride lot at Fourth Avenue Southwest and 148th Street where Wykel's Mercedes was found.
“The whole neighborhood is very devastated,” said John Ogdon, a neighbor. “Everybody liked Bob.”
“He's such a great guy,” said Randy Tumelson, another neighbor.
Wykel's daughter drove in from suburban Chicago and helped to distribute fliers yesterday. Rebecca Lee is hoping for the best, but seems convinced that something must have happened to her father.
After all, he never went very long without returning telephone calls to her and her siblings. Besides, Wykel was planning a family reunion with his children in a few weeks.
“My dad wouldn't leave like this,” Lee said yesterday outside the four-unit apartment building where Wykel lived on 11th Avenue Southwest. “He wouldn't have left his car like that. And he wouldn't have not called us back.”
Bob Wykel is a friendly, even jolly man.
He likes chatting up strangers, especially if he can talk about his two favorite subjects: cars and hunting.
He looks younger than his age and acts younger still, family and neighbors said. “He had a spunk and attitude about him like he was 25,” Ogdon said.
He also has a wide stubborn streak, his daughter said.
Neighbors say if someone tried to take his money or ring, they would be in for a fight.
“If you asked Bob for $5, he'd give it to you,” Ogdon said. “If you tried to take $5 from him, there's no way.”
Wykel moved to the Seattle area several years ago. He had been a sheet-metal worker and owned a restaurant in Illinois. He had also worked on the Alaska pipeline.
Seattle was a perfect jumping-off spot for a man who loved to hunt. He had been around the world in search of big-game trophies, neighbors said.
He also dabbled in the car business, buying an older BMW or Mercedes, then smoothing out the dents and scratches for resale.
“Sometimes he had three or four Mercedes sitting around or a Mustang or an old Caddy,” Ogdon said.
Wykel might just fly out to Illinois or California to buy a classic car, then drive it back to Burien. He deals in cash, figuring that he can get a better price that way, said Tripp, the police detective.
He is a man who likes haggling over a price as much as acquiring, his daughter said. After all, he is known to frequent swap meets and garage sales to find a deal, then talk down the price.
Wykel's style has left police with few leads. He had told friends and one of his sons about the Thunderbird.
But Tripp said Wykel's home is full of car magazines and newspapers that offer classic cars for sale. What's more, he often juggled two- or three-car deals at the same time, Tripp said.
He may have left his car at the Park and Ride, which was typical if he planned to buy a car in the area, Tripp said. He would take the bus to the seller, buy the car and drive it home.
But Wykel was also known to go far and wide for a car. So the detective isn't discounting that he might have gone outside King County.
It was unusual, however, for Wykel to leave for long without telling neighbors, Ogdon said. When he hadn't seen his friend, Ogdon started to worry, then began checking on Wykel's mail.
When Ogdon came across a notice that the Mercedes had been towed, he was convinced something was wrong. Wykel would not have left his $30,000 car in a lot for weeks. In fact, he usually left it at Ogdon's house if he left for a long trip.
Robert J. Wykel is white and 5’11” tall. He weighs 225 pounds. He has blond and brown hair and a receding hairline.
Anyone who may have seen Wykel should call Tripp at 205-7804.
“Even someone who saw him but doesn't think they know anything should call,” Lee said. ``They might know something.”
This article contained at least one photo or illustration as described below:
Type: Color Photo
Description: Police fear the worst may have happened to Bob Wykel, who frequently carried a lot of cash.