Left and Right: Michael circa, 1975
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: December 31, 1975
Missing From: Lincoln, Cook County, Illinois
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: circa, 1956
Age: 19 years old
Height and Weight: 5’10” and 135 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Male, Brown hair, Blue eyes, Michael has a scar on the bridge of his nose and at the time of his disappearance his hair was shoulder length and he had a mustache that extended to the end of his mouth, Michael’s nickname is “Mike”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A tan buckskin coat with fleece collor and a brown print shirt, light brown pants/blue jeans, and white tennis shoes
Details of Disappearance
Michael Mansfield was last seen in Lincoln, Illinois on December 31st 1975. He was last seen at approximately 2:00 pm that day. He was helping his mother prepare for New Years when the phone in their home rang and he answered it. He then put the phone down and told his mother that he was going out for an hour to meet a friend and left the home.
Mansfield never returned home and was never seen or heard from again. He left his wallet at home. Investigators believe that Mansfield was the victim of a homicide.
Mansfield vanished exactly 6 days before he was supposed to testify against Russell Smrekar, his former college roommate. He was accused of stealing a guitar and 80 records from a girls dormitory on September 18th 1975. He was charged with burglary and petty theft.
He was a key witness in the case because he saw Russell bring the stolen goods into their room. Mansfield guesses they were stolen and hid them to avoid getting into trouble. When the theft was discovered, Mansfield was initially charged with hiding evidence of a theft but the charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony.
Mansfield had already testified against Russell before the college judicial board which ended up expelling him 3 weeks into his sophomore year. Mansfield was to testify against him in criminal court after he disappeared. The charges against Smrekar were dropped due to lack of evidence without Mansfield’s testimony.
The year after Mansfield’s disappearance, Smrekar allegedly stole 2 steaks from a Kroger Grocery Store. He threw the steaks under the car of 51 year old Ruth Louise Martin as he fled the store. She was to be a witness in that case as well. Ruth vanished on June 2nd 1976 and has never been seen again.
Smrekar was later convicted of murdering Jay and Robin Fry. Jay was the shore clerk who saw Russell attempting to steal the steaks and was due to testify against him at his trial. Robin was his wife who was pregnant at the time of the murders. Both were found gunned down in their home. Russell was sentenced to 200-600 years for the murders.
In October of 2011, Smrekar admitted to killing Ruth Martin on the day of her disappearance. He stated that he buried her body under interstate 55 on the same night. Interstate 55 was under construction at the time of her disappearance. He also confessed to killing Mansfield but he would not divulge the location of his body. Martin and Mansfield were never found and Russell was never charged with either case. He died in prison shortly after he confessed.
At the time of his disappearance, Mansfield was a student at Lincoln College but he was home with his parents for the holidays. He lived with them in the 3900 block of Gull Court. He was known to frequent record stores at Woodfield Shopping Center and in Arlington Heights and Chicago, Illinois. He was a good student and made good grades.
Michael also worked at the Lincoln College Radio Station and dreamed of being a radio station music director. He was a 1974 graduate of Rolling Meadows High School. Three of his siblings still live in Illinois but his parents have since moved to Florida. His mother passed away in October of 2014. His family held a memorial for him in 1998.
Michael’s remains have not been found but foul play is suspected in his disappearance. His case is considered closed by investigators.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Rolling Meadows Police Department 847-255-2416