U.S. Embassy Issues Public Plea for Help
by Maria Flora, Crawfordsville Journal Review Reporter
April 22, 2004
U.S. Embassy officials in Argentina issued a public plea Wednesday for help finding a missing American exchange student as Argentine federal police continued their search.
Anthony Hyatt Lobdell, 21, Indianapolis, is studying through an Institute for Study Abroad program at Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. The school is 624 miles west of Buenos Aires.
Lobdell, a Franklin Central High School graduate, is a junior at Wabash College majoring in political science and minoring in Spanish. Lobdell, an Indianapolis native, is the son of Lawrence and Nancy Lobdell. His father declined comment this week, but confirmed they have been in touch with the U.S. Embassy.
Lobdell was last seen in Bariloche, a ski resort town in the Andes Mountains, a U.S. Embassy official said. Lobdell left Mendoza April 4 for a vacation with an American female companion Joanna Holvey-Bowles, IFSA Butler University associate director, would not name. Butler University, Indianapolis, administers the Institute for Study Abroad.
Lobdell told his host family and IFSA staff in Argentina he would return April 11, but they've not seen him since. The girl returned to her host family while Lobdell continued travel, Holvey-Bowles said.
Lobdell's host family, who were interviewed on Argentinean news stations Wednesday, became worried and reported Lobdell missing to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires on April 15, officials said.
The Embassy reported Lobdell missing to federal and Mendoza police agencies who are investigating. The Embassy Wednesday sent two photographs of Lobdell and a public plea for help finding him to more than 250 media, including television, radio and newspapers.
The Embassy press release asked citizens to look for Lobdell, especially near Bariloche, and to report any information on his whereabouts to authorities.
"He may not even know we're looking for him," Jim Amidon, Wabash director of public affairs, said.
"Argentines are very responsible to these kinds of pleas for help," said the State Department official, who asked not to be named. Argentina is a non-violent society and it is extremely rare for an American or any foreigner to go missing there, the official said.
Young Americans and Europeans visit southern Argentina in droves because it's a beautiful area and the dollar is strong, the official said. The area where Lobdell was last seen has rugged terrain.
Lobdell is known as a talented, punctual student, officials said. He has not used his credit card to draw money from his Argentinean bank account since April 9 or checked his Wabash College e-mail account since April 7, Amidon said.
"I hope they continue to monitor his bank activity," Amidon said. "He will need money if he's alive and walking around in the country."
The IFSA has never had a student go missing, but some have returned up to 10 days later than their itinerary indicated because they were having a good time, Holvey-Bowles said, adding, "We are still optimistic he'll be found."
Wabash College has asked any students with information about Lobdell or who receive e-mail from him to report it to school officials
Information about the investigation is available at the Mendoza newspaper, La Nacion, Web site: www.lanacion.com.ar