Details of Disappearance Lobdell was a student at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana at the time of his disappearance. He was enrolled in a Latin American study abroad program through the Institute for Study Abroad through Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The program sent Lobdell to southern Argentina, where he attended classes at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, a town just east of the Argentine/Chilean border. He arrived in Argentina on February 27, 2004, and last used his email account on April 7 of that year.
Lobdell was last seen on April 8, at a park in Bariloche, a ski resort town in the Andes Mountains in the Province of Rio Negro, Argentina. He was on spring break at the time and traveling the country. An American couple say they saw him on his way out of the park, and that he told them he would catch a bus back to downtown Bariloche.
On April 9, the day after he was last seen, Lobdell withdrew $36 from his Argentinian bank account through an automatic teller machine (ATM). He has never been heard from again. He was supposed to return to his host family's home on April 11, but did not. He was reported missing on April 15, when he failed to return to his university for classes.
When the police began investigating, they found Lobdell's passport, clothing and other personal belongings left behind in his hotel room, indicating that he only intended to be gone for a short time.
Argentinian investigators believe Lobdell did not meet with foul play but instead drowned in Lake Gutierrez, which in the Andes Mountains near Bariloche. Lobdell's footprints were found around the lakeshore, along with his backpack, camera, coat, diary, and lighter.
Police believe Lobdell got lost hiking back to the bus stop as darkness fell, developed hypothermia, became disoriented, and blundered into the lake.
Lobdell was born in Indianapolis and graduated Franklin Central High School. He was majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish at the time of his disappearance, and was a member of Wabash College's chapter of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
He is nearly fluent in Spanish and is an experienced traveler in Latin America; he spent the summer of 2003 studying abroad in Ecuador. He was going to study in Spain in 2004, but his interest in Latin American politics and culture caused him to change his mind and sign up for the Argentinian program.
Lobdell's loved ones describe him as a responsible and studious person who would not leave voluntarily without telling others of his plans. Wabash College has held a memorial service for him. If he did indeed drown, his remains have not been found.
Although Lobdell disappeared in Argentina, the Charley Project is profiling his case because he is an American citizen. His case remains unsolved.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation