Amos Mortier led a seemingly simple life in Fitchburg devoted to his dog and college science classes, making it hard to believe he would be part of the area's largest drug trafficking operation.
No one has seen or heard from Amos since he vanished nine years ago this month.
The Fitchburg Police Department admitted years ago they think he was murdered, but haven't found his body.
They need help and for the first time police are presenting Amos' case to a group of special investigators called the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators.
Every year on the day her son disappeared, Amos' mom Margie Milutnovich stands down from his Lacy Road home holding large posters of her son for passing motorists to see.
"I don't even want to be out here anymore," Milutnovich said. "It just doesn't stop, it's ongoing."
In the week after his 2004 disappearance, searchers scoured the area around his house that investigators said he'd left unlocked. The stereo was still on and his wallet, coat, keys and most beloved belonging, his dog Gnosis were left behind.
"We were a bit disadvantaged right from the start because he was reported missing on the 15th and it was believed his last known contact with anyone was November 8th," Fitchburg Police Lt. Chad Brecklin said.
Family and friends shared fliers and hung billboards, a unique effort at the time to try and solve the mysterious case.
A year into the investigation, police revealed Amos was buying and selling marijuana, as many as 90 bricks of it a month.
"We don't often come across that size of marijuana in one time in this country," Brecklin said.
Police arrested at least five people who never broke under the threat of federal charges. They went to prison rather than admit anything they might know about Amos. In 2008, freelance newspaper reporter Nathan Comp told News 3 he had secret grand jury documents from the investigation that identified a man who confessed to stabbing Amos.
"It had to do, in part, with the debt," Comp said. "He allegedly owed Amos $80,000 for marijuana that had been stolen from him."
We wondered, and asked Brecklin, why then, wasn't that witness arrested?
"We've made every single effort we possibly could to follow up on all the leads we had the ability to follow-up on," Brecklin said. "Unfortunately, it hasn't led to the discovery of Amos."
"I'm open to anything," Milutnovich said. "I just want to get the truth."
If Amos ran away to hide from whomever might be after him, Margie wouldn't say, only that she's gone so far as to work with witches, aerial photographers and psychics.
"It's not enough, because nothing is happening," she said, hopeful holding up the posters with Amos' picture will help break this Wisconsin Cold Case. "Really, I'm almost hopeful all the time. There are moments where you feel like it's not going to happen, but they're just brief moments."
If only the grief could be as brief as the cars that buzzed by that day.
But somewhere beneath a mother's desperation is determination, so that one day she can put down the posters and pick up her son to bring him home.
"It's only been three days or it's only been a week, and you say that every time, thinking there is still time to find him and now it's been nine years," Milutnovich said.
Brecklin is working to summarize Amos' case, but wouldn't say when he thought it would be ready for the WAHI.
You can help by reporting anonymous tips to Fitchburg police at 608-270-4300. There's a $25,000 reward being offered.
For more case information, go to the website Margie made for Amos.
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