After 33 years, the unsolved mystery of Paul Knockel's disappearance has been dredged back up with the discovery of his 1981 Mercury Zephyr.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps

Who is Paul Knockel?

In November 1990, the peaceful city of Dubuque, Iowa, was shaken by the sudden and unexplained disappearance of a beloved member of their community, Paul Joseph Knockel. A simple man known for his strong family ties, vanished on his way to a family meal. This baffling cold case continues to haunt his family and law enforcement.

Credit: Iowa Department of Public Safety
Credit: Iowa Department of Public Safety

The story began on a chilly November day when Paul failed to show up for the Thanksgiving dinner he so eagerly anticipated. His absence was immediately concerning, as he enjoyed and rarely missed family gatherings. Relatives rushed to his home, only to find his wallet, watch, and even his shoes left behind, but Paul and his car, a 1981 red Mercury Zephyr, had vanished without a trace. On November 13th, his family thought they saw Knockel's car parked along Route 151, just over the Wisconsin border. Within a few hours of the sighting, the vehicle had disappeared.

Credit: Jody Ewing YouTube Channel Paul Joseph Knockel's 1981 Mercury Zephyr.
Credit: Jody Ewing YouTube Channel
Paul Joseph Knockel's 1981 Mercury Zephyr.

The family's suspicions grew, believing that Paul may have been abducted at his home and perhaps met a tragic end. The inexplicable departure from his home in the 2100 block of Washington Street, left behind personal items he carried daily, which added to his family's concerns. He was reported missing on November 26th after he didn't show up for his job at the Swiss Colony mail-order gift house in Monroe, Wisconsin.

Unsolved Mystery: The Disappearance of Paul Joseph Knockel

The case has remained a puzzle for over three decades, but now a recent discovery on Thursday October 12th, 2023, has brought new hope and fresh questions. During dredge operations by Newt Marine Services in the Mississippi River near the Hawthorne Boat Ramp, Paul's submerged car was found and pulled from the river. While the recovery offers a glimmer of hope, no human remains were located in the vehicle. Investigators from the Dubuque Police Department were assisted by Wenzel Towing in recovering the vehicle.

attachment-2023-10-26 11_31_54-Cold Case_ Paul Knockel of Dubuque, IA -- WHO-TV Reports - YouTube and 4 more pa

The search for Paul Knockel's fate is far from over. Dubuque's police investigators, his family, and the community are eager to uncover the truth behind his disappearance. Paul's family seeks closure and the opportunity to provide him with a proper burial, believing that a good and simple man like him deserves nothing less.

As the investigation continues, the mysteries surrounding Paul's disappearance serve as a stark reminder that, even in our modern world, there are cases that defy explanation and leave families desperate for answers and closure. The hope is that one day, the puzzle of missing Paul Joseph Knockel will be solved, bringing peace to those who loved him.

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Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Investigator Corporal Clark Egdorf at 563-589-4430 or  Anonymous tips can be submitted online via the Dubuque Police Department’s Official Page: or by calling Dubuque/Jo Daviess Crime Stoppers at (800)747-0117.

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