A 26-year-old Ohio Army National Guard specialist has been missing for a month and her worried family has hired a private investigator to help find her.
Michaela Nelson, from Xenia, Ohio, was reported missing by the National Guard on October 26.
She had finished her Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Jackson, in South Carolina, on October 2 and failed to return to her unit in Dayton, Ohio.
Nelson last spoke to her family the day she vanished. According to Fox News, she exchanged text messages with her grandmother.
Her father, Lance Nelson, filed a missing person report with the Columbus Police Department and has since also hired Private Detective James Terry, who suggested that Nelson disappeared after deciding to go AWOL following the death of her mother.
Terry said the Nelson family believes Michaela is alive and revealed that ‘she’s using some sort of phone’.
‘She just doesn’t have her number on,’ the detective added, noting that the phone is off but her FaceTime still rings.
Specialist in the Ohio Army National Guard Michaela Nelson (left and right), 26, from Xenia, Ohio, was reported missing on October 26 – one month after her mother passed away from breast cancer. Her family still believes she is alive and Private Detective James Terry said ‘she’s using some sort of phone’
Nelson (center) is the oldest of five siblings. She graduated from Cedarville University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and was pictured on graduation day with her brother Caden (far left), late mother Jacquelyn (second from left), father Lance (second from right) and sister Ariana (far right)
Her cousin Elise Miller said she hadn’t talked to Nelson since early last month at Nelson’s mother’s funeral.
Jacquelyn Jean Miller Nelson passed away from breast cancer on September 16, aged 59. She was survived by her husband and their five children, of which Michaela is the oldest.
Lance Nelson told Dayton 24/7 that his daughter had been dealing with a lot of grief leading up to her disappearance.
‘You go through a divorce there’s a lot of grief, that was a year ago. Losing her mother a few months ago to breast cancer and then getting evicted from an apartment,’ he said.
He last saw his daughter at his wife’s funeral and recalled speaking to her through text on October 24.
Nelson was last seen between October 6 and 15 while driving her charcoal gray 2016 Dodge Charger SXT (pictured) with the license plate number JLL4284. License plate readers in Columbus, Ohio, showed that she was driving near an apartment where she had lived
The private detective said that Nelson could be avoiding the repercussions a service member faces if they don’t report for duty, which include a Dishonorable Discharge and is punishable with jail time
Terry said she could be avoiding the repercussions a service member faces if they don’t report for duty, which include a dishonorable discharge and is punishable with jail time.
But a spokesperson from the Ohio Army National Guard told Fox: ‘First and foremost, Spc. Nelson’s health and safety are our priority. Any discussion of discipline or administrative action is not a priority.’
A statement issued by the National Guard on Facebook added: ‘Our hope is she’s found safe as soon as possible. We will continue to be available to provide any assistance needed to her family and law enforcement.’
Nelson enlisted in the National Guard in September 2020.
According to Fox, Nelson was last seen between October 6 and 15 while driving her charcoal gray 2016 Dodge Charger SXT. License plate readers in Columbus, Ohio, showed that she was driving near an apartment where she had lived.
Nelson’s sister has since revealed that the license plate number is JLL4284.
However, by the time she was reported missing and police searched the area, Nelson’s car was nowhere to be found.
Nelson reportedly had an ex who was the subject of a restraining order but her father told Fox that the document was no longer in effect.
‘I think it faded,’ Lance said. It was unclear if the restraining order was against Nelson’s ex-husband.
Civil protection orders (CPOs) in Ohio last up to five years and can be renewed.
Since November 5 ,Nelson’s sister Ariana Frueh has posted to Facebook asking for help in locating her older sister.
‘Begging for your prayers…. We just want her to be safe!’ she wrote.
Lance said that his daughter had been dealing with a lot of grief leading up to her disappearance. She lost her mother to breast cancer in September and had recently gone through a divorce
Nelson was briefly married to her college sweetheart Cole Swigert (pictured together) but the two have divorced
A week later she posted another photo of her missing sister and said: ‘No big update…long story short we are still on the lookout for Michaela.’
Lance, who has been taking care of Nelson’s dog Kiki, told Dayton 24/7 that the holiday season will ‘be rough’ without Nelson.
Nelson, who also went by Kayla Kay and Michaela Kay on social media, had a website where she shared details about her personal and professional life, including her relationship, fitness journey and mental health.
She was accepting new clients for her eight-week personal training program, FASTer Way to Fat Loss.
According to her website, Nelson married her college sweetheart Cole Swigert and became a personal trainer in 2015 as a college student at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.
She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science.
Nelson often shared videos of herself working out and in her Army garb on TikTok, where she boasts nearly 19,000 followers.