Woman's disappearance still a mystery

Bucks County Courier Times

Police are still searching for information on Kathleen Mohn, who went missing in December 1999.

A week after Kathleen Mohn disappeared, her husband drove to Delaware to visit her father.

Thomas Mohn arrived with the Christmas presents his wife had bought for her two young nieces. The gifts, which included a doll on a skateboard, already had been wrapped.

Thomas Mohn told Kathleen's father he was passing along those gifts - two weeks before Christmas - because he didn't know when his wife would come home, her family said.

A few days later, Kathleen's Ford Explorer was discovered in the parking lot of a KFC in Tullytown. Police found seven air fresheners inside. The truck was uncharacteristically clean. A cadaver dog reacted excitedly to the smell of the passenger seat.

After initially sharing some information, police said Thomas Mohn, an Upper Merion dentist, stopped talking to them.

Detectives said they learned that Kathleen, 48, an X-ray tech, was on the verge of filing for divorce. She was seeing another man, according to police.

Kathleen Mohn disappeared 10 years ago this month. She still hasn't come home. And detectives say Thomas Mohn still hasn't cooperated in their search for his wife.

He has never called Upper Merion police to ask about the investigation - which remains active - Detective Rick Gehman said last week.

"His lack of concern - his failure to inquire regarding the investigation - is somewhat suspicious," Gehman said. "Would we like to talk to him? Absolutely, we would."

But on Tuesday evening, Thomas Mohn said he isn't talking because he "has nothing to add'' to the investigation into his wife's disappearance.

In a phone conversation from his Upper Merion home, Thomas Mohn said he couldn't offer any theories on what happened to Kathleen. He said he "hadn't heard anything (regarding her disappearance). I don't have any current information."

When asked if he had anything to do with his wife's disappearance, he answered, "No," adding, "That's offensive for someone to ask, particularly during the holiday season.''

Because the couple lived in Upper Merion, police there are investigating her disappearance. However, Kathleen was spending a lot of time in Bristol Township before she went missing, visiting a man she was having an affair with, police said. Her Ford Explorer was found in Tullytown, and police searched the surrounding area for her body.

In 2000, then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor III said Thomas Mohn had the right to stay silent regarding his wife's disappearance. Castor said Thomas Mohn's reticence is not evidence that he had done anything wrong.

"However, if my wife were missing, I think I would be doing everything I could to locate her," Castor said then. "He could have any number of reasons (not to talk), although I can't think of any off the top of my head."

The current DA, Risa Vetri Ferman, last week said members of her office still think about the case and hope it will be solved.

A bad marriage

Kathleen's brother, Frank Maykut Jr., said he doesn't remember how she and her husband met. He said their marriage started out well. But they were very different people, he said. Kathleen was very social. Thomas wasn't.

Almost every week she would visit her father, her brother and his daughters in Delaware - without her husband, Maykut said. The couple was married for more than 20 years.

By September 1999, Kathleen Mohn was seeing another man, Robert Linder of Bristol Township. An address and phone number for Linder couldn't be found to give him a chance to comment.

In January 2000, Linder told the newspaper he and Kathleen had met through a mutual friend.

"We went to dinner one night, and it just escalated from there," he said, adding Kathleen Mohn usually spent every weekend at his house.

Linder said Mohn was extremely unhappy in her marriage.

"There was actually no marriage, just living quarters," he said. "She made up her mind about getting a divorce. She didn't want to hide (this relationship) from her husband."

After her disappearance, Upper Merion police began interviewing coworkers and friends of Kathleen and Thomas Mohn. Police included a lot of the information they gathered in a warrant to search the couple's home in Gulph Mills.

Kathleen had told a friend she would be entitled to 65 percent of her husband's dental practice in a divorce, according to the warrant. Kathleen told another friend she expected to receive between $3,000 and $4,000 a month in support payments, according to the warrant.

Not long before she disappeared, Thomas Mohn confided in one of his employees that his wife might be leaving him, the warrant said.

"He told me that she was in love with another man," the search warrant quoted the employee as saying. "He was upset. I could see that he had been crying."

About a week before she vanished, Kathleen told relatives her husband had "got down on his hands and knees and said, 'Kathy, don't do that. You'll bankrupt me,' " her father, Frank Maykut Sr., 82, told the Associated Press in 2002.

Kathleen was last seen on Dec. 3, a Friday. The X-ray technician had worked that day at her husband's dental practice in Ardmore. She then went home.

According to Linder at the time, Kathleen was regularly spending her weekends with him. But on that Friday, Kathleen told Linder she couldn't meet up with him that night. She said she had to wrap presents for her two nieces, ages 7 and 10, according to Linder. The gifts included three Spice Girls dolls and a doll on a skateboard.

Linder told police he had convinced Kathleen to come over anyway, saying they could wrap the gifts together. But she never arrived.

When she didn't show up in Bristol Township that night, and didn't return about 20 of his phone calls, Linder figured maybe Kathleen had reconciled with her husband.

Thomas Mohn reported his wife missing Dec. 5. When the husband initially talked to Upper Merion police, he gave them background information and said he last saw his wife Friday about 9 p.m. when she left the house, according to police.

The following Saturday, Dec. 11, Thomas Mohn arrived at his father-in-law's house in Wilmington. He gave Frank Maykut Sr. the Christmas presents Kathleen had bought for her nieces.

Speaking last week, Maykut Sr. said: "Why did he bring those gifts down here? Did he know she wasn't coming back?"

Maykut Sr. said that was the last time he saw or heard from his daughter's husband.

The following Thursday, Dec. 16, police found Kathleen's Ford Explorer. It was parked at the now-closed KFC on Route 13 near Levittown Parkway. Employees said it had been there since at least Dec. 5.

The vehicle was "immaculate," there wasn't even an ash in the ashtray, police said. That wasn't the way Kathleen kept it, police said. Also out of character were the five pine tree car fresheners and a Glade stick that scented the interior.

Inside the SUV, police found her purse, medication, eyeglasses and cigarettes. Her wallet was gone.

The Explorer's driver seat had been pushed all the way back. That made it unlikely the 5-foot 2-inch Kathleen was the last person to drive it, police said.

Detectives recovered a video taken at the Bristol exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It showed Kathleen's SUV exiting the highway on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 9:54 a.m. The video showed a person with blond hair - like Kathleen's - slumped against the passenger-side window.

All that could be seen of the driver was an elbow.

The search

In the search warrant filed in Montgomery County in December 1999, police said they believed Kathleen Mohn was the victim of a kidnapping and/or murder. Inside the Mohn home, police found a dirty pair of jeans, a dirty shovel and red stains, believed to be blood, on a wall, according to police.

Because her Ford Explorer was found in Lower Bucks, police helicopters buzzed over the Delaware Canal, Levittown Lake and the Levittown Shopping Center in search of a body. Investigators scoured the area in the driving, cold rain.

A cadaver dog had grown excited at the smell of the passenger seat in Kathleen's Ford Explorer. And a cadaver dog grew excited around a particular spot in a wooded area under the Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge. A backhoe was brought in. Nothing was found.

Police theorized the car was ditched in Levittown because the person could catch SEPTA's R-7 line across Route 13 from the KFC. The cops also thought the car was placed there to cast suspicion on Linder, Kathleen's boyfriend, because he lived nearby.

But by that point in the investigation, Linder had been eliminated as a suspect, according to police. Detectives said the person they really wanted to talk to was Thomas Mohn.

"For all we know, Kathleen Mohn is the victim of random violence," Castor, the then-Montgomery County DA, had said. "I can't explain why (Thomas Mohn is) behaving the way he is."

About six months after Kathleen disappeared, her brother Frank called Thomas Mohn.

"I had reached the breaking point, and I called him," Maykut said last week. "He didn't show any emotions towards her disappearance. He's a very smug monotone-ish kind of guy. That got on my nerves, and I started hollering at him over the phone."

Maykut said he eventually hung up on Mohn.

In a 2000 interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, Thomas Mohn said he had "no idea" what had happened to his wife.

"My situation has been extremely sad since my wife disappeared," he said then. "Her disappearance has been a sad turn of events. Hopefully, there will be a resolution so this whole matter will be behind us."

Gehman, the Upper Merion detective, said a photo of Kathleen Mohn sits on the desks of two detectives. Four copy paper boxes full of files on that case sit behind him.

"Technology has changed over the last 10 years, and all of the evidence is currently being re-evaluated and re-examined," he said.

Kathleen's nieces are now 17 and 20.

"They really miss her," Kathleen's brother said. "And I was really close to her. At that time, I was divorced, and she was a big help to me in raising my daughters. The impact she had on their lives shows today."

A few days after Kathleen's husband drove to Delaware to drop off the Christmas presents, the police confiscated them. They were still wrapped. The dolls Kathleen Mohn bought her nieces for Christmas have been locked up as evidence for 10 years.

If you can help

Anyone with information regarding the Kathleen Mohn case is asked to call Upper Merion police at 610-265-3232 or e-mail Detective Rick Gehman at rgehman@umtownship.org

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