March 31, 2011

11/30/10: Joe Sjoberg, 22, Madison, WI

Joe Sjoberg (pronounced: SHOW-BERG), 22, was last seen Tuesday, November 30, 2010. Joe, who lives in Madison, Wis., was last seen on the near East side of Madison on North Baldwin Street. Sjoberg who is originally from Seattle, Washington, was reported missing by his roommate after he didn't show up at home or at work. He was last seen at work on Monday, Nov. 29, 2010.

Madison police investigated Joe's disappearance and found that his car and cell phone were gone. The cell phone appeared dead and Joe had not contacted any friends or family, something that was considered to be very uncharacteristic of the young man.

"Nothing has been found that would indicate he is the victim of a crime, but police are trying to locate him," said police spokesman Joel DeSpain. They hoped that Sjoberg just needed some time away and would return on his own.

According to the Seattle Times, "Sjoberg, who spent the Thanksgiving holiday with three of his four siblings in New York days before he disappeared, had shown no signs of depression, his parents said. Although a search of his computer at work showed he had visited some websites that discuss suicide, his parents aren't jumping to conclusions." Sjoberg's family posted on Twitter, Reddit, Craigslist, Facebook and also created a Web page. The Facebook page had more than 12,000 members.

Car found with remains inside

In late March 2010, Madison police confirmed that a burned out car found in a field on Monday, Mar. 28, outside of Columbus, WI, belonged to Joe Sjoberg. Human remains, later identified as Sjoberg's, were found inside the car.

The car was found by a farmer trimming along a fence line at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, Mar. 28. He described the remains as "only bones."

Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards told WISC, that the car was found 500 yards off a road and within sight of Highways 16, 60 and 151, yet it was difficult to spot without looking directly at it.

"It was out in the elements for a while," Richards said.

He added that the fire that burned the vehicle appeared to be very hot, as all that was left of the car was metal.

"They are literally picking out piece by piece in that car," Richards said. "It's a very, very time-consuming task that they are taking on right now."

The State Crime Lab used body fragments to identify the body, Columbia County authorities said.

The Associate Press has reported that "Law enforcement sources say Sjoberg's cell phone had pinged in the area in December and there were plans for a ground search [that] weekend" because the snow had melted.

According to the article, Madison police said foul play wasn't suspected.''

About Joe Sjoberg

Photo Credit:
Carleton College
According to the Seattle Times, Joe Sjoberg graduated from Seattle's Roosevelt High School in 2006. He was a former Washington state elementary-school chess champion. He attended college at Carelton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he was captain of the swim team and won best of meet in some competitions. He has been described as an excellent student, sociable with many friends, and a lot of confidence.

Sjoberg, had graduated from college in June and started working for Epic Systems, a Madison-area software company, in July.

Joe's obituary reads, "His easy smile, exuberance, booming laugh, and his loving and compassionate heart, were a light in our lives for almost 23 years. We are profoundly grateful for the time we had with him. We will miss him more than we can ever say, but take solace in knowing that he will live on in our hearts and in memories of the multitude of people whose lives he touched." (

Credit: Carleton College
A memorial service was held at the Carleton College chapel on May 28. A funeral was held on June 4 at St. Matthew's Church in Seattle. The service included a Mass and was followed by a reception at Roosevelt High School Theater. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to either of two funds set up in Joe's honor:

Roosevelt Drama Joe Sjoberg Memorial Fund
Checks made out to AFORD (Associated Friends of Roosevelt Drama)
Memo: Joe Sjoberg Memorial Fund
PO Box 15886
Seattle, WA 98115
For more information, contact: or

Carleton College Joe Sjoberg Memorial Fund
By phone: Carleton's Gift Accounting Office at 800-758-9441.
Mail: Carleton College, Gift Accounting, 1-CENREC, 1 N College St, Northfield, MN 55057.

Facts of Interest
Name/age: Joseph S. Sjoberg, 22
Last seen: 11/30/10, Madison, WI
Physical decription: 5'10, 180-200 lbs with short, light brown hair and hazel eyes. According to his roommate, he had three or four weeks worth of beard when he was last seen. He may have been wearing a hoodie and/or a ski jacket and grey casual sneakers with red trim, described as being " a bit beat up."
Notes: Sjoberg drives a gray 1991 Chevy Caprice with Washington license plate 513 WYN.
Investigating Agency: Madison Police Department

First published: 12/30/10. Updated: 03/13/11, 06/17/11.


BoyintheMachine said...

I feel so bad for the family. With the holiday and him visiting web pages on suicide, it doesn't look good. Hopefully he just needed some time to get away for a while and that he will be found safe and sound.

Lawana said...

As I return to the website, I am very saddened to read of yet another disappearance of a young man.

I have researched many things on my computer, many times for friends, one in particular who suspected her child was bi-polar but didn't want him to know she was researching it, so I'm hopeful that perhaps Mr. Sjoberg might have been trying to help a friend instead of looking for info for himself.

I also hope he will be found safe and sound. It concerns me though that it has been over a month now since he was last seen or heard from.

Karen said...

here's an update:

Anonymous said...

his car was found yesterday burned badly with a body inside, they are still trying to determine who the remains are of. So sorry to hear, he was such a wonderful caring good person. Its sad to see any stories on this site end like this, but especially this one. Joe will be missed.

BoyintheMachine said...

"Foul Play Isn't Suspected"


Unless they have hard evidence upfront that it's not murder then they need to be treating it as a murder.

director said...

Agree with BoyintheMachine!

PS- does anyone know what happened to Corrine's blog?

trout said...

@Director-The SFM blog is back up.

Louie said...

This is very sad news and I must agree completely with BITM and Director, it certainly seems like foul play should be suspected as I have not heard of this type of suicide method - has anyone else? They have not yet confirmed it is Mr. Sjoberg but if it isn't him than that means it is someone else - there appears to be no good outcome :-(

director said...

Thanks, Trout!

I know that finding a boy in his car points to it most likely being him, but has anyone heard any official confirmation?

By the way, Corrine's blog at mentions how multiple individuals who have recently started new jobs, as well as multiple individuals who have specifically worked for the company Joe was just hired at, are included among the missing/drowned.

Lisa said...

A lab is currently working on identifying the remains. It may take several weeks. Will keep you posted.

JJ said...

Very sad news. My heart goes out to the family.

To answer Louie's question, yes many people do choose this method to end their lives. My brother did it back in Nov '09. Devastating.

Anonymous said...

JJ.....not to say this scenario doesn't happen, this method is certainly rare enough that I've never heard of it in my 47 years of living. My first instincts, sadly is that foul play is what caused this. A fire hot enough to burn up the car and leave only metal suggests to me that someone was eliminating evidence. But, I'm sure the authorities have evidence to the contrary......I hope. From what others have posted and knowing the nature of this kid, I'd say something screwy is going on in the mid west. It just doesn't add up.

puzzled said...

Foul play isn't suspected .... Why the hell not?

Amy Flink said...

I agree, the fact that the family passed it off as a suicide just doesn't sit well with me. There was one situation I heard of where an old man was found dead in his burning home and they were able to determine that the gunshot to his head was self-inflicted and that he just used the fire to cover it up...they discovered he was dying of cancer. Also found dead in the fire was his pet bird and an autopsey revealed that his bird also had terminal cancer. SAD!! Please, investigate Joe's case, LE. I have a feeling his case wasn't a suicide as he didn't seem depressed from what loved ones said.

Ronni Bear said...

Cannot believe foul play is not suspected!!

missbnana said...

No one would burn themselves alive in a car. I just completed a lengthy study of suicidology and never came across any case where a person suicided by fire in an enclosed automobile. The only cases of suicide by fire that I am aware of are political protest suicides, in Asia.

C said...

If someone is considering suicide and considering burning themselves alive I'd be quite shocked. Like others, I've never heard a case where this type of suicide was carried out. Scorching a car frequently involves covering up evidence.