The search for Malvi
Michael Neiger explores caves, scales cliffs and bushwhacks through the Upper Peninsula wilderness, all in the name of justice.
"The cases that I work on are basically the hardest of the hard," he said. "They're cases that everyone's worked on and they weren't able to solve them. There aren't any clues. In large part, there's just not much left to do."
The 63-year-old Marquette native searches for missing people whose cases have been closed. He worked in forensics for 26 years with the Michigan State Police. After retiring, he founded Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue (MibSAR), and began searching full-time for free.
"'I'm fortunate I can help families that can't afford to hire a private investigator," he said.
His current mission is to find evidence relating to the case of 27-year-old Malvika Deshmukh, who disappeared from downstate Bear Lake around September 9.
"She was super trustworthy," said Sandee Ware, owner of Ware Farm in Bear Lake and Malvika's former employer. "She's someone you could have take money and never worry about her stealing it or anything like that. She was totally a trustworthy person, and innocent in a lot of ways."
Malvi, as she was known, had a cabin in Bear Lake. When searched, a lamp was found on and knocked over. Her car was found on a trail in Rock River Township, hidden beneath brush. Its license plate and vehicle identification number had been removed.
"Those things lend themselves to the possibility of foul play being involved," Neiger said. "On the other hand, it's my understanding talking to the family that she was looking forward to coming to the U.P. after her summer of farming was over."
The U.S. Forest Service, Alger County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and the DNR conducted searches. But as of now, Michael is the only one still trying to find her.
Malvi's family is offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to her whereabouts.