Ground crews searching in South Dakota for a Nebraska man who vanished with is family nearly two weeks ago have scaled down their efforts after he called his father saying they are all doing well and want to be left alone.
Matthew Schade's father told the The Knox County Sheriff's Office that he spoke with his son, his daughter-in-law, Rowena Schade, and their children, Devon, 11, and Sean, 8, on Thursday.
He said they were doing well and were well prepared to wait out the next storm coming through the Black Hills.
The family's car was found in the Black Hills on Tuesday prompting authorities to search for the family in rugged terrain near Pactola Reservoir and the village of Silver City.
They were last seen March 20 at their home 400 miles away in Creighton, Neb., the day each was interviewed by a Knox County deputy sheriff on allegations of abuse, according to statements from Nebraska and South Dakota law enforcement agencies.
The deputy "made an offer of help and counseling. No arrests were made and no injuries were observed," Knox County Sheriff Jim Janecek said in a release. He did not comment further.
Matthew Schade, 26, is on probation in Nebraska for burglary, and an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to notify a probation officer of his whereabouts, the statement said. Rowena Schade, 29, was also on probation but authorities did say why.
Investigators said the Schades, who spent their honeymoon in the Black Hills, had talked about relocating. It also appeared they left the house in a hurry and recently purchased more than $1,000 worth of "camping survival type gear" that was missing.
Matthew Schade had also attended a survival camp through his church six years in a row in the search area and "expressed he would like to live like a hermit in the mountains," wrote Maj. Brian Mueller of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office in South Dakota.
A ground and air search had resumed Thursday and focused on the numerous abandoned mines, cabins and other buildings in the isolated Pactola Reservoir area, as well as meadows and creek beds that would serve well as a camp, Mueller told The Associated Press.
After hearing about the phone call, ground search crews scaled down the search operations until the situation can be further assessed.