Details of Disappearance
Robert was last seen playing in an empty lot in his family's Campbellsport, Wisconsin neighborhood on May 14, 1983. The lot was beside the Mill Pond/Milwaukee River in the area where the Campbellsport Firehouse now stands. He was with his sister and friends approximately one-half block from the family's residence when he was last seen.
Sometime between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., Robert told his sister he was hungry and was going to walk home. Robert never arrived home and has never been heard from again. The toy gun he'd been playing with was later found. After Robert's disappearance, an extensive search was made of the Milwaukee River and the Mill Pond, on the theory that he had drowned. No trace of him was ever found.
He lived with his mother and four of his siblings on east Main Street, Highway 67, at the time of his disappearance; his father and two of his brothers lived in Illinois. His parents had gone through a bitter divorce and a week after Robert vanished, his father remarried.
Authorities looked into the possibility that Robert's father was involved in his disappearance, but could find no evidence to support the theory, and both parents were cleared as suspects. Robert's father has since died and his mother has moved away from the Campbellsport area. Authorities eventually concluded that he must have been abducted, since their thorough search turned up no sign of him.
Sex offender Michael Scott Menzer was identified as a suspect in Robert's case a year after the child vanished. A photo of Menzer is posted with this case summary. In 1980, he was convicted of sexually abusing a ten-year-old boy. He lived alone at the Waldo Mill, a historic building fifteen miles outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin and less than twenty miles from Campbellsport.
Police excavated his property and found boxes of child sexual abuse images, news clippings about Robert's abduction, decayed remnants of children's clothes and some small bones, but it could not be determined whether the bones were human.
In 1990, Menzer burned down the Waldo Mill, killing his two young stepsons in the process. He had previously been charged with sexually assaulting the boys, but was acquitted. He wasn't indicted for the arson and murders until 1992, but he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to forty years in prison. Menzer died in custody in 2008, at the age of 59. He never cooperated with the investigation into Robert's disappearance.
Robert closely resembled his brother, Tony, in childhood and may look like him as an adult. A photograph of Tony is posted with this case summary.