Missing Without A Trace

NBC 5 Investigates: Missing United Executive Leaves More Questions Than Answers

"Something is absolutely not right," a caller is heard saying to a 911 dispatcher in a released tape

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The call came into DuPage County’s 911 center shortly before 1 pm on Aug. 8.

“I’m filing a missing person report,” said the caller Kristine Cefolia, the ex-wife of United Airlines executive Jake Cefolia. "Nobody's seen him since Thursday and he hasn't reached out to any family members at all."

On the surface, Jake Cefolia seemed to have it all. At age 49, the telegenic United executive was the senior vice president of worldwide sales. He was a divorced father of two who lived in the western suburbs of Elmhurst, Illinois who often spent time with his children.

“He missed his night with the kids. I have someone checking to see if he’s on a flight somewhere,” said Kristine Cefolia to the 911 dispatcher. “Something is absolutely not right.”

Kristine told the Elmhurst police that she became worried and went to check on Jake’s house but discovered no one was home.  She also told police that a note from a United co-worker who was also looking for Jake was left on the door.

“I’ve left him multiple text messages, emails, nothing,” Kristine told the 911 dispatcher. “Nobody’s heard from him. He is acting very out of character.”

Nearly 10 hours after the 911 call,  the DuPage Forest Preserve Police discovered Jake’s Range Rover parked at the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Lemont. They reported no signs of foul play or suicide.

Inside the car authorities found a set of golf clubs, a first-aid kit, a sweatshirt, and a medical mask, according to police reports.

There was no note left by Jake.

Cefolia used to run the trails at Waterfall Glen Park, but a massive search shortly after his disappearance by police, volunteers and canines turned up nothing.

According to police reports, Cefolia’s cell phone and Apple Watch were located back at his house.

“His son reported that he was drunk on the last day he was seen. Extremely drunk,” David Giuliani, a reporter for Patch who retraced Cefolia’s steps in the days before he went missing, says.

This occurred on Aug. 6, two days before Cefolia went missing. Police reports show that Cefolia was selling his house but had missed a meeting with his realtor earlier in that day.

On Aug. 5, three days before his ex-wife filed a missing person report, Cefolia flew back from a visit with his girlfriend in San Francisco. She told police Jake wanted to reconcile after she broke up with him a few weeks before, according to police reports.

But there was something else that might have given police a clue.

“Apparently his ex-wife said he fantasized about going off the grid and his girlfriend said he wanted to go into the mountains…he wanted to leave,” said Giuliani referring to police reports.

Through a Freedom of Information request, NBC5 Investigates obtained a copy of a surveillance video from a Shell station in Elmhurst on Aug. 7, the day before his SUV was discovered.

Police have identified the man in the video as Cefolia filing his tank and say that this was the last purchase made from his Chase credit card. Police reported that he may have been last seen wearing khakis, hiking boots and a baseball cap.

Former United employee Alicia Stasica Bailey said that she never met Cefolia but started a Facebook group when he disappeared.

“I think there’s just so many people out there who genuinely care and want to know he’s okay,” Bailey said. "And there's no answers for them yet."

However, Giuliani thinks some answers could be found in what was going on in Cefolia's life prior to his disappearance.

“Jake Cefolia was in trouble according to the Elmhurst police department. They say he was under investigation when he went missing. I don’t know what it was, but that adds another layer to this,” he said.

A law enforcement source confirms to NBC5 Investigates that he was under investigation but wouldn’t say what for.

Elmhurst police reportedly confirmed the investigation to Giuliani but declined our request for an interview saying in writing that Cefolia had not been charged with a crime.

More than two months after his disappearance authorities clearly know more than they are sharing.

“There are hundreds of people across the country concerned for his wellbeing,” said Bailey. “If he was able to resurface, people would be relieved.”

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