So far, there have been no clues surrounding the disappearance of a Fairbanks man who has been missing since late March.
Ernest Burggraf, 60, was last seen March 19, around 12:30 a.m. after being dropped off at his vehicle after work. His car was found unlocked with the keys in the ignition in the Fairbanks Resource Agency parking lot at 805 Airport Way. Burggraf was employed as a custodian at FRA.
“They saw him get into his car and turn on the lights and then they left; that’s the last anyone saw him,” Burggraf’s father, Roger Burggraf, said. Ernest Burggraf was last seen in the early morning hours on Friday, and his family realized he was missing the following Sunday, when he did not show up at his mother’s house for dinner. He was reported missing on March 23.
Burggraf described his son as fairly solitary, but said he was active in the church, where he was an official greeter. “We’re very concerned ... it wouldn’t be like him to take off,” Burggraf said of his son. Ernest Burggraf has cerebral palsy but is high functioning and does not have mobility issues. “We don’t know what happened to him,” Roger Burggraf said.
The Alaska State Troopers (who are handling the case) and Burggraf’s family and church searched for him, but so far no answers have turned up. Trooper Sgt. Tyler Stuart said that troopers checked Burggraf’s work vehicle, residence, frequented establishments and talked with his friends and acquaintances. Additionally, a wildlife trooper used a snowmachine to travel nearby trails. They briefly worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to check his bank account to see if any funds had been withdrawn.
At first, no one realized that his car was in the FRA parking lot. When the car was discovered, one theory was that Burggraf may have decided to walk due to car troubles; however, the car started right away. A further issue is that there are no cameras in the FRA parking lot, according to Roger Burggraf.
Since it was a possibility that Burggraf could have for some reason walked home, searchers scoured the routes he may have taken, but to no avail. Burggraf did not have a cell phone, so he could not have contacted anyone for help. Nor can law enforcement use a phone to track his potential whereabouts. Roger Burggraf said a search of his son’s apartment suggested that he never made it back home.
According to Stuart, there was a lead that Burggraf could potentially be in Anchorage. Stuart said this has not been ruled out.
“Some things have not changed,” said Stuart. “We haven’t made a lot of progress.”
According to a flyer posted to Facebook, Burggraf was on medications and could be having withdrawal symptoms. Stuart said he could not speak to the specific medications, but said that they were “nothing out of the ordinary,” and were not narcotics.
“It’s very devastating,” said Roger Burggraf. At this point, “there’s not much else we can do but hope.” Roger Burggraf said that they hope to at least find a body in order to get a sense of closure.
Moving forward, Stuart said troopers are going to “think outside of the box” in terms of ways to reach more people. In addition to expanding the search, they are also going to hone in and go through everything “with a fine tooth comb,” including reexamining his residence.
Roger Burggraf noted that his son’s disappearance is part of a larger trend; he is one of several missing persons in the area. Last Friday, there was a rally for the five Indigenous people currently missing in Fairbanks.
Burggraf is 5 foot, 9 inches, and weights 210 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information regarding Ernest Burggraf’s disappearance or whereabouts should contact the Alaska State Troopers at -907-451-5100.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7545.