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“I Hope to Survive This Week": Teen Sends Mysterious Text before Disappearing after “Epiphany”

Logan Schiendelman’s car was found with no one in it after rolling across a Washington freeway into a center barrier.

By Jill Sederstrom
How Do Investigators Handle Adult Missing Person Cases?

The week he disappeared, 19-year-old Logan Schiendelman sent a cryptic text to a young woman he’d met on a dating app.

“I hope to survive this week,” he wrote.

Lt. Cameron Simper of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office told the Dateline: Missing in America podcast that it’s unclear what Logan meant by that puzzling comment.

“He didn’t explain why he didn’t feel he was going to make it through the week,” Simper said.

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Days after sending that text, the teenager disappeared.

On May 20, 2016, Logan’s 1996 Chrysler Sebring convertible was found with no one in it, after drifting across three lanes of traffic and slamming into a center barrier on the interstate just south of Olympia, Washington.

A 911 caller reported seeing a man inside the vehicle before it began dangerously rolling into traffic. The witness said the man — who did not match Logan’s description — jumped out of the passenger side of the car and ran into the nearby woods. Logan’s family has spent years agonizing over what happened to the popular former Tumwater High School football player.

Who is Logan Schiendelman?

Logan and his older sister, Chloe, were raised by their grandmother, Ginnie Schiendelman.

Ginnie described her grandson as a bright little boy who grew up surrounded by friends and family.

“He was just a smart, funny person,” she said.

In high school, Logan earned good grades and was a defensive back on the school’s football team, who loved capturing his friends in funny videos.

A photo of Logan Schiendelman with his family

“I don’t know anybody that did not like Logan,” recalled his great-aunt Mary Ware.

Logan frequently helped Mary and her husband, Mike Ware, a retired sheriff’s deputy, with chores on their small farm.

“I’d have him mowing the fields or cleaning the barns,” Mike remembered. “He was always ready and willing.”

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But Logan also appeared to be struggling with his identity. Logan’s grandfather was African American and his dad, whom he’d never met, was from Saudi Arabia. When Logan was growing up, his hometown, Tumwater, was more than 80% white.

According to his grandmother, who is white, Logan’s racial identity was never an issue for the popular teen until a party toward the end of his senior year in high school, when a girl made racist remarks to him.

“He’d been to a party and things hadn’t gone well. And he was upset about it because somebody was making remarks to him and his friends didn’t stand up for him,” Ginnie said.

Logan Schiendelman poses in his football uniform.

The incident was so upsetting to Logan that he cut off his friends and the entire group he hung out with. He also made the last-minute decision to enroll at Washington State University, a college more than 300 miles from his home.

“He was really, really hurt,” Ginnie said.

Ginnie said Logan made plenty of new friends at WSU, but he didn’t go to his classes and failed out of the college. At the end of his freshman year, he moved back in with his grandmother and step-grandfather Bill.

His sister, Chloe, and her boyfriend at the time were living there too. Mary recalled that Logan confided in her before he disappeared that Chloe’s boyfriend was a “problem,” although he didn’t give her any more details.

“It was almost like he was afraid to talk about it,” Mary recalled.

How did Logan Schiendelman disappear?

On May 18, 2016, two days before his car was found abandoned, Ginnie said Logan came into the kitchen and told her he’d be away for the weekend.

“I said, ‘What are you going to do?’ and he said, ‘Well, I had an epiphany,’” she recalled. “I said, ‘OK, what was your epiphany? And he said, ‘Well, I can’t really explain it,’”

Ginnie had to leave for work so she told Logan they’d talk about it more later that night, but when she got home he wasn’t there.

It wasn’t unusual for Logan to not be home in the evening, so Ginnie wasn’t too worried at first. When he didn’t come home the next day she used a tracking app on her phone and noticed his phone was in Olympia, not far from where his mom lived.

Logan Schiendelman

She assumed he must be visiting his mom, but as the days passed and there was no sign of Logan, she began to worry and reported him missing.

Investigators at the sheriff’s office soon learned that state troopers had impounded Logan’s car after it was found on the I-5. When Ginnie and Bill picked up the car from the tow lot, they were unnerved to discover Logan’s wallet and phone in the vehicle, along with a bag containing a sandwich wrapper and about $20 in cash. That’s not all they found.

“He had stuff in the trunk, like a blanket and some clothes and some DVDs, which is kind of weird. Movies. But, if he was going to be gone [and] thought he was going to be gone for a couple of days, it kind of made sense,” she said.

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Several people who saw Logan’s car roll across the interstate had called 911, including that witness who reported seeing a man jump out of the vehicle and run into the woods.

The witness later looked at a photo of Logan and told investigators Logan wasn’t the person he saw. He said the man who ran into the woods was white.

“Based on that single report, if it was not Logan in the vehicle, then that would lend to there being foul play involved in this incident,” Simper said.

Using cell phone data, the sheriff’s office learned that in the hours before Logan’s car was ditched on the freeway, his cell phone had traveled south on I-5 from Olympia to Vancouver, Washington before turning around and heading back toward the Olympia area where the vehicle was found. Investigators don’t know, however, whether Logan was with his phone at the time.

Mary believes Chloe’s boyfriend, who had a criminal record including assault and domestic violence convictions, may have been involved in Logan’s disappearance. Investigators interviewed him multiple times and he denied any involvement and agreed to take a polygraph, which he passed. The original detective in the case ruled him out as a suspect.

In the seven years since Logan vanished, Lt. Simper said tips have come in from across the country, but none has led to a break in the case.

“My own personal feeling is that he came into conflict with somebody, I don’t think he left on his own,” Mike said.

Logan’s great-aunt Mary said not knowing what happened to the nephew they adored has left them in “purgatory.”

“I think it’s called ambiguous loss,” Mary said. “You’re kind of stuck in the middle. You’re kind of in purgatory.”

Logan Schiendelman was 5’11”, 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes when he was last seen at his home in Tumwater in 2016.

If you have any information about his disappearance, contact the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at 360-786-5500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-577-8477.

Logan’s family is offering a reward for any information that leads to finding him.

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