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Michael "Mikey" Dean Jansson, 21, a resident of Lincolnwood, Ill., was last seen on March 9, 2001 leaving the Biology Bar at 1520 N. Fremont Street in Chicago. He had been at the bar with his oldest friend, Joe, Joe's cousin, Fari, and Joe's girlfriend, Magaly, who drove the group in her car. The group arrived shortly after midnight. Sometime between 1:30 and 2:15 a.m., Michael borrowed Joe's cell phone asked for the keys to Magaly's car, a Buick LeSabre, which was parked around the corner, so he could make a call. Around this same time, Michael and another patron exchanged words. The other patron was in a party of four or five, already on his way out, when an altercation nearly took place. The bouncers stepped in before it could escalate. Club policy required that all of the patrons involved in a dispute leave the premises. Michael, according to bouncer Miles Roberts, was grateful to have avoided a fight and possible police involvement, and went outside to wait for his friends (Chicago Reader). Michael still had Joe's phone and Magaly's car keys when he left. It was about 2:30 a.m.
While Michael waited outside, the other patron who had been kicked out drove by the bar several times. Roberts noticed the guy and his friends cruising past the club entrance giving dirty looks to Michael. He flagged down a patrolling squad car and told them of the situation. The officer drove off in the direction the car went. The light-colored four-door Infinity never returned after that, says Roberts.
Joe's cousin, Fari, said he had checked on Michael two or three times after he was kicked out, but Michael never mentioned the menacing behavior from the occupants of the Infinity. Fari doesn't believe the men were hanging around the club. He says he last saw Michael around 3:15 a.m., 20 to 30 minutes before the club closed. Michael had moved the car to the front of the club and was planning to wait for them. Fari told him they'd be back out in ten minutes, but Michael asked him to not take so long. Ultimately, the friends did not come out for until 3:35 or 3:45 a.m., and by this time Michael was already gone, along with their ride. (Chicago Reader). They thought he left because he was mad or, possibly, because the police told him to leave.
Roberts's account differs slightly in that he remembers that Michael's friends only checked on him once, and this was after he had prompted them to do so. He says that Michael abruptly left the club about 2:30 a.m., which is an earlier estimate of the time he was last seen, but no one was really watching the clock. "He drove off going northbound," said Roberts, "and I didn't pay attention to see whether he had turned right going towards the lakefront or left going back to the expressway."(Chicago Reader).
Nowhere to be Found
After leaving the club, Michael's friend Joe used a friend's cell phone and called Michael three to five times. He got no answer. They drove around looking for Michael and the car, and even stopped at his sister's house and also flagged down a policeman. Nothing yielded any clues. At around 8:30 that morning, Joe again tried to call Michael, but the phone was answered by an unknown person who wanted a reward for returning it to him. The man told Joe that he had to go to court, but to call him back in two hours. When Joe called, he didn't pick up, and he stopped answering the phone after that.
Joe learned later that both his mother and his cousin, Fari, had also tried calling the phone. At around 1:30 p.m., Fari talked to a man who he believed to be African-American who answered the phone. Pretending to be Joe, Fari made arrangements to meet the man to give him $50 for the phone. "He was like, 'Meet me on Madison and Kostner. I'll be outside,'" Fari told the Chicago Reader. "I remember he said something like, 'Don't be shady about it. Don't bring no cops and stuff.'" Fari told the paper that he had no intention of meeting the man, especially when he had to be to work at 2 p.m. But Joe was going to be picking him up to give him a ride, so he planned to tell him about the plan. However, Joe fell asleep and never showed up to take him to work.
That same afternoon, Joe's mother called him twice and was alarmed to hear the stranger's voice answering her son's phone. Not knowing that Michael was missing or that her son had been with him the night before, she assumed the phone had been stolen and immediately had the service terminated. According to the Reader, "Just before it was cut off, the person with the phone placed two more calls, one at 3:16 PM and another at 3:17--both to the number of Ahmed Ali, one of the party's organizers and the person who'd driven [Joe] home that morning." Ali says that he had called Joe's phone only to find out if Joe had found Michael and the car. He recalls talking to the man with the phone--who may have said that the phone had been dropped--then he was told the battery was about to die and the connection broke.
A record of calls that were made from the phone have since shown up on Joe's cell phone bill. Some calls were made to relatives of people who work at the club, although no one will admit using the phone. The family is considering the possibility that the phone was simply dropped inside the club and has nothing to do with Michael's disappearance.
The cell phone was never recovered.
In an effort to find Michael, the car he was driving was reported stolen. According to a 2014 article in the Cook County Record, police had determined in 2001 that Michael stole the car and fled the area.
Michael's family told the media that it was very uncharacteristic for Michael to leave without telling anyone where his going. Because of this, his family worried that Michael may have been car jacked, or perhaps even abducted. Jansson was reportedly a heavy gambler through off-shore betting services, and he was wearing expensive jewelry on the night he disappeared. He also had previous arrest for cocaine possession in 1999, although he had since cleaned up his act.
Michael's family described him to the media as "a very athletic person" who loved "all types of sports, but in particular soccer and baseball." They added that he "enjoys foods such as pizza, tacos and grilled cheese" and "is very good with computers." Michael also regularly babysat his three-year old nephew and is very family oriented.
Michael Jansson Found
On March 16, 2012 the Chicago Tribune reported that a Buick LeSabre pulled from the Chicago River has a vehicle identification number matching the car that Michael Jansson had been driving when he disappeared in 2001. Authorities identified bones inside the car as Michael Jansson's through DNA testing.
The car was found in the North Branch of the Chicago River near Blackhawk Street on Saturday, December 15, by using new side-scanning sonar equipment. The vehicle was upside down and partially buried. Only about two feet of the car was visible. The area had been searched in 2001 after Jansson vanished, before the sonar technology was available, and nothing was found.
The location of the car was within a few blocks of where Michael was last seen. (See map.)
In May 2014, the Cook County Record reported that Michael's mother, Lynda, filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for negligence. She believes her son's death may gave been prevented if the barriers the city had installed between the road and the Chicago River had not been inadequate.
Name/age: Michael Dean Jansson, 21
Date of Birth: Sept. 24, 1979
Physical Description: 5'10", 150#, light brown hair, blue eyes, Caucasian
According to his missing person's flier, Michael "was last seen wearing a brown Eddie Bauer sweater, black Sketchers shoes, a black leather jacket, black jeans, a gold chain bracelet, a gold rope chain necklace with a two-inch Italian horn on it, a gold ring set with a $2.50 Indian head coin, and a black onyx ring with a gold line running downwards at an angle."
Last seen: 3/9/01, Biology Bar, 1520 Fremont Street Chicago, IL. Jansson was driving a friend's burgundy 1992 Buick LeSabre with the left front fender damaged and Illinois license plates numbered J739691, according to the National Center for Missing Adults.
Investigating Agency: Chicago Police 312-744-8266
Kallies, Thomas (2012, November 18). Woman sues city for negligence after body found inside submerged vehicle. The Cook County Record. Retrieved May 4, 2013 from http://cookcountyrecord.com/news/259350-woman-sues-city-for-negligence-after-body-found-inside-submerged-vehicle.
Staff Report. (2012, December 16). Car pulled from river may contain bones of man missing since 2001. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 12, 2012 from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-car-pulled-from-river-bones-man-missing-since-2001-michael-jansson-20121215,0,6408832.story?track=rss
Sula, Mike. (2001, June 21). Dead or alive? Chicago Reader. Retrieved December 26, 2012 from http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/dead-or-alive/Content?oid=905726.
Published 6/29/09. Revised 12/21/12, 12/26/12, 5/4/13.