By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
ST. PETER — When Pat Meyer and her family packed up to make the drive from St. Peter to Colorado Friday, they knew, this time, they wouldn’t have to spend days living in a hotel room.
They will be staying in Pat Meyer’s daughter’s house in Wheat Ridge, a western suburb of Denver. The police have finished their work at Leann “Annie” Meyer’s house. Investigators are done collecting evidence they hope will lead them to the 52-year-old woman who has been missing since early February. Annie Meyer grew up in St. Peter, where most of her family still lives, but has lived in the Denver area for the past 15 years.
“The last time she was seen was Feb. 7,” said Randy Gustafson, Annie Meyer’s brother-in-law. “She works at US Bank in downtown Denver as an IT person. She wasn’t feeling well and went home and that was the last anyone saw of her.”
It was March 5 before Gustafson and his wife, Annie’s sister Judy, found out Annie was missing. The Gustafsons live in St. Peter but were staying at their winter home in Florida at the time. They drove directly to Wheat Ridge and met Judy’s brother and two sisters, including Jeanne Stuart who had driven to Wheat Ridge from her home in St. Peter.
More family arrived, including their mother, Pat Meyer of St. Peter, and they spent more than a week based in a hotel suite and working long days. Posters with Annie’s picture and description were tacked or taped all over the Denver area. The family also attempted to gather information about their missing family member.
On Monday the Gustafsons and Pat Meyer returned to their homes in St. Peter. They, along with all but one of Annie’s siblings, returned to Wheat Ridge Friday. They will participate in a candlelight vigil at Annie’s house Saturday. Sunday the family will attend a sunrise Easter service at Red Rocks Auditorium, a scenic concert venue near Denver that is a favorite spot for Annie.
The family also has added $10,000 to a $10,000 reward that was already being offered by US Bank and Crime Stoppers. It will be paid to anyone who provides information that leads investigators to Annie.
Randy Gustafson said the family didn’t have an official meeting with police investigators until the middle of this month. A woman who was living in Annie’s house, Melissa Miller, has hired an attorney and has refused to talk to the family or police.
Here’s what Randy Gustafson said the family does know about Annie Meyer’s disappearance:
Her friends waited until early March to report her missing because they were receiving text messages after she left work on Feb. 7. Now those friends aren’t sure it was actually Annie sending the messages.
Annie and Pat Meyer talked to each other by phone every Sunday. The last time Pat Meyer talked to Annie was Feb. 10. Pat Meyer was at an airport in Florida, about to fly back to Minnesota after a vacation, so the conversation was brief. When Annie didn’t call the following Sunday, Pat Meyer assumed her daughter was just busy.
“Pat tried to call the following Sunday, that would be Feb. 24, and Annie didn’t answer,” Randy Gustafson said. “Annie’s friends were trying to contact her, too.”
The family was allowed to go into Annie’s house earlier this month while police were still searching it. They found her luggage in the house, so they don’t believe she was planning to leave.
Annie’s two vehicles, a Toyota pickup and a Rav4, were gone when police started their investigation. Both vehicles were found March 13. The pickup was found in a parking lot about three miles from Annie’s house. The Rav4 was found parked on a residential street about a mile in the opposite direction from the house.
The pickup truck had been sold. Gustafson said the family doesn’t know if the pickup was sold by Annie or someone else.
Annie’s friends have set up a fund for people in the St. Peter area who want to help fund efforts to find her. Checks can be made out to the Annie Meyer Fund and sent to: Nicollet County Bank, P.O. Box 420, St. Peter, MN, 56082. Donations also can be dropped off during banking hours.
“There are a lot of people who know her around here,” Randy Gustafson said. “It’s a big family and we’ve lived here all our lives.”