Police 'scaling down' search for missing Saint John man

Three days after the disappearance of a 54-year-old Peter Hoellwarth, the search effort has yet to find a trace of him.

Peter Hoellwarth was last seen leaving his west Saint John home Sunday night

Peter Hoellwarth, 54, was last seen leaving his Martion-area home Sunday night. (Facebook)

Police announced they are "scaling down" the search for a 54-year-old Saint John man since no trace of him has been found after three days.

Posters with Peter Hoellwarth's picture are taped on mailboxes in the Martinon community where the father left his west-side home Sunday around 10:30 p.m. and vanished.

Peter Hoellwarth's picture can now be seen on mailboxes in the Martinon community. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The Saint John Police Force said in a statement Wednesday evening that it is "scaling down the formal search in the Martinon area for Mr. Hoellwarth."

"To date, the search for Mr. Hoellwarth has produced negative results and there has been no information discovered that has revealed where he may be," the statement said.

Police have asked the public for help finding the man and to search their properties and report anything out of the ordinary.

The major crime unit is continuing its investigation.

Earlier on Wednesday, a search and rescue official said the search zone was expanded and areas that were quickly scoured initially were under closer examination.

"With doing interviews with the family, that gives us a little bit more awareness on higher probabilities where to search and where we might find him," said Jen Woodside, search manager with York Sunbury Search and Rescue.

"So hit those areas first, hard. And then we'll go back and to those area with a more thorough search."

Jen Woodside of York Sunbury Search and Rescue said the search area is expanding while the initial search zones will be under closer examination. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Woodside said all the ground search and rescue teams from southern New Brunswick have been assisting the search effort.

Using dogs, boats, all-terrain vehicles and drones, crews have searched roads, trails, shorelines and wooded areas in the community.

Abundance of volunteers

More than 200 volunteers have helped the dozen or so organizations executing the search, and officials are asking them to register with the command centre to be assigned safe search sites and not impede or endanger the effort.

Kim McCurdy, a volunteer co-ordinating the other volunteers, said the outpouring of support illustrates the community spirit, but the effort needs to be organized.

Volunteer co-ordinator Kim McCurdy said more than 200 volunteers have showed up to assist the search effort. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"We don't want to interfere with anything that they pick up on in their professional opinion," McCurdy said. "We don't want to leave anything behind that may seem like somebody has been in an odd spot."

Volunteers can register at the Martinon Community Centre.

Public plea

Hoellwarth's daughter asked for the public to pass along information and search their properties.

"If everyone who lives in the Grand Bay, Martinon and Belmont area could please search their yards, ditches, sheds and wooded areas it would be so greatly appreciated. I️ just want my dad home!" Emilee Hoellwarth wrote in a Facebook post.

"If anyone knows anything please reach out."

Peter Hoellwarth and his daughter Emilee. (Facebook/Emilee Hoellwarth)

People who know Peter Hoellwarth say the disappearance of the fit business and family man is out of character.

"This is a man who [is a] dedicated family man, professional man, very athletic — walks, runs," said close friend Leigh Gilmore. "He knows this area inside and out and to not even come up with, not even a trace, a sign, nothing, doesn't make any sense at all."

Friends and neighbours say they would keep looking for Hoellwarth until he's found.

Hoellwarth is described as being five feet seven inches tall and 160 pounds, with greying, receding hair.

He was last seen wearing dark jeans, a black T-shirt and blue Nike sneakers.

Anyone with information is urged to call Saint John police at 648-3333.

With files from Shane Fowler

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