Disappearance of Eric Haider: A workplace mystery

Published: Nov. 22, 2016 at 5:31 PM CST
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It was a workplace mystery. A Bismarck construction worker simply disappeared from a job site in Dickinson in 2012.

Eric Haider's family ran into several obstacles while trying to find him.

Three years later, his body was found in the same place he vanished.

Sharon Johnson brings more light to what had been called a dead-end case that his family says is far from over.

Eric Haider was a 30-year-old father of two.

Whether it was kayaking, cliff jumping, or just fishing, he was always looking for a new experience.

"He was fun to be around. That's why he had so many friends. He just kind of stood out," said Dan Suchan, Haider's stepfather.​

And, the day he disappeared, his parents say he was trying to do just that.

"He had a girl that he loved, and his daughter. And he just wanted to move forward instead of looking in the past," said Dan Suchan.

Haider had begun a new job search. He was working at Cofell Plumbing and Heating, a company based in Bismarck.

But Haider never got the opportunity to move on.

On May 24, 2012, he went missing.

"Last thing he said was, 'Gave me a kiss and hug and said' love you ma. Talk to you later.' That was the last time I saw him," said Mary Ellen, Haider's mother

Haider was on a crew of six working in Dickinson.

According to police interviews with his coworkers, he was asked to seal a leak in a pipe shortly after lunch.

Through documents obtained by police from Verizon, Haider last checked his voicemail at 12:04 p.m. MST that day.

Police found that one coworker assigned to backfilling had a call marked on his phone at 12:14 p.m. MST that day, a time the man said he was in the loader moving dirt. It lasted five minutes.

The crew said they started backfilling holes around 12:15 p.m. MST.

Then, the foreman made a call to Haider's phone at 1:13 p.m. MST about the time they realized he was gone.

"If you see you have a half a dozen men there, and there's one guy gone, you stop what you're doing, and you find out where that person went," said Dan Suchan.

Coworkers brought his paycheck and lunchbox back to Bismarck that day.

Haider's fiancé reported he was missing that night the first to do so.

Dickinson police started interviewing the Coffel crew and excavating the construction site five days later mostly based off of directions Coffel gave them.

'We had been told and led to believe that that portion of the ditch had been backfilled prior to Eric's disappearance. We had already went further than the information we did have at hand," said Sgt. Kylan Klauzer, Dickinson Police Department.

But they were digging farther in the wrong direction.

"They totally, 100 percent ignored that other cup link. Instead they went farther south," said Mary Ellen Suchan, mom

On May 21, 2015, private investigators found Haider's body 6 and a half feet underground, less than 10 feet away from where police originally dug.

But the discovery of Haider's body was only the beginning of an investigation that would leave his family even more frustrated and lost than when he first went missing.

The mother of Haider's daughter declined an interview.

We reached out to Cofell's Plumbing and Heating for comment, but they did not return our calls.

Wednesday, we will tell you why investigators say the evidence in the case brought more questions than answers.