Details of Disappearance
Hagel resided in Fargo, North Dakota at the time of his disappearance, and was employed as a traveling salesman. He was last seen at a bowling tournament in Fargo on February 26, 1989. After the tournament was over, he apparently traveled across the country for unknown reasons.
Hagel called his ex-girlfriend on March 8, 1989. He told her he was in Kingman, Arizona. He said he'd been to nine states in nine days and had only $200 left, and planned to return home to Bismarck. His ex-girlfriend stated he seemed depressed during the conversation and hinted he was feeling suicidal. He never arrived in Bismarck and has never been heard from again.
Hagel's blue Ford Tempo was located in a desolate area off the road near the Death Valley National Monument in California on March 10. His belongings were inside the vehicle. Police followed a set of footprints for six miles away from his abandoned vehicle, but eventually lost the trail.
Hagel has never been located and it's unclear whether it was he who abandoned the car and walked into the desert; park rangers could never prove he'd been at the park. The Death Valley area is known for its mysterious disappearances; several tourists who have gone to see the monument have gotten lost and has never been seen again.
Hagel's own father disappeared without explanation around the time he was born, but resurfaced alive and well several years later. Some investigators feel Hagel staged his disappearance to walk away from his life, just as his father did.
There was one possible sighting of Hagel in California after he went missing, but this was never confirmed. Since his disappearance he hasn't used his Social Security number, accessed his financial accounts or been arrested anywhere in the United States.
Bismarck, North Dakota police are investigating Hagel's case.