Dave Bakke: Some closure 31 years after disappearance

Dave Bakke

On Thanksgiving Day 1977, Thomas Michael Roscetti got on his bicycle and rode away from his home on Wesley Avenue in Springfield.

He left a note for his parents, saying it was just time for him to be on his own. In his note, he said he would write or call. He was 19 years old when he left home that day. He was never seen or heard from again.

But his name recently resurfaced in Sangamon County Circuit Court. This spring, nearly 31 years after he disappeared, Roscetti’s foster brother, Jack Schultz, petitioned to have the boy known as “Mikey” Roscetti declared legally dead.

A family spokesman told me that family members prefer not to comment on the situation, so some questions will remain unanswered.

According to Schultz’s court petition, Roscetti took nothing with him when he left home but his bicycle and the clothes on his back. He left his house key behind.

His mother, Delta, died in 1977. His father, Michael, followed her in 1989. Neither ever knew what happened to their son or why.

Twenty years ago, Roscetti’s father started the process to have his son legally declared dead. But Mike Roscetti died before getting it completed.

Twelve years ago, Schultz renewed the effort to have Roscetti legally declared dead. But it wasn’t until this summer that the case arrived in court.

Roscetti did have a life insurance policy in force when he disappeared. Court documents show that Schultz is listed as a secondary beneficiary on the policy. The primary beneficiaries were Roscetti’s mother and father.

Schultz’s court petition describes his connection to Roscetti. Schultz’s parents had both died by 1962, when he was about 11 years old. He eventually moved in with Delta and Mike Roscetti, whom he refers to in court documents as “Aunt Del” and “Uncle Mike.”

“Thomas Michael Roscetti,” Schultz’s petition states, “was generally characterized as a ‘loner.’ He dropped out of high school and had several problems with the law.”

That, unfortunately, is the only description of Roscetti that we have.

Since Roscetti’s disappearance, the family has used a number of methods to try to find him. Inquiries were made of friends and other family members. Nobody has seen him.

Records have been searched, including Social Security’s death index and Internal Revenue Service records. Law enforcement has searched its databases. Even Roscetti’s dentist was contacted. None had any information. No wage earnings were ever listed under his name. No activity was recorded for the savings account he had when he disappeared.

So what happened to Mikey Roscetti? Probably, no one will ever know. In the emotionless phrase of the court document: “There was no explanation given. None has arisen.”

On July 28, after a hearing at the Sangamon County Courthouse, Circuit Judge Leo Zappa ruled that a “diligent and reasonable effort” had been made to learn Roscetti’s fate.

Thirty-one years after an apparently troubled teenager got on his bike and rode away from home never to be heard from again, Zappa granted the petition. Thomas Michael Roscetti is legally deceased.

Dave Bakke can be reached atdave.bakke@sj-r.com.