NewsLocal NewsLee County


Volunteer group searches for missing Cape Coral man

Marco Patriots search on land and water for Barry Schmalbach
Marco Patriots
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jul 31, 2023

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — As the search continues for a missing Cape Coral man, 56-year-old Barry Schmalbach, a local volunteer group is lending their time to help look for him.

Schmalbach disappeared about two weeks ago, and his family, mostly in Chicago, are desperate for answers.

The Marco Patriots, a group known for helping after disasters and also missing persons cases, spent Monday looking in canals near Schmalbach's home on Beach Parkway.

"Definitely a mystery. Definitely we’re going to help," said Marco Patriots volunteer Matt Melican. "It seemed to me that the circumstances were unusual."

Cape Coral Police say Schmalbach was last seen at the Cruisers bar in downtown Cape Coral on July 19.

In a police report, the boyfriend told police Schmalbach got into an Uber or someone's car at the bar. The police report says mutual friends heard Schmalbach and his boyfriend got into a fight right before he left.

RELATED: 'Really concerned': Cape Coral man missing for five days without a trace

RELATED: 'This is not like him': Sister of missing Cape Coral man pleads for information

Friends reported him missing on July 21 after searching his apartment and not hearing back from him.

His little sister, Emily Scaletta, told Fox 4 he left without big items, such as his Jeep and other belongings.

With no sign of Schmalbach, Melican and volunteers Todd and Jack hit the ground running.

"We have the time and we have the volunteers and we’re able to do it," Melican said.

They took out two jet skis and launched from Horton Park, heading to south Cape Coral.

"We’re going to make sure that the canals in the area of Beach Parkway and Barry’s home have at least been balanced over by our teams," Melican explained. "Most missing persons cases in our immediate Collier and Lee counties attract our attention because it’s something that we feel we can be helpful."

The group started searching for Schmalbach about a week after he went missing. They first looked in the Yucca Pens Preserve area, then went to Alligator Alley based off a tip.

The search on the I-75 corridor near the toll plaza came up empty.

"I don’t think anybody really knows what to do, so we don’t mind looking at the obvious, you can say," Melican said.
Monday's search also came up empty, but it doesn't mean the dedicated volunteers are going to stop looking for Schmalbach.

"We just want the family to know that we’re here to help them in any way that they can," Melican said. "Let’s really try to help the family find Barry." 

If you have any information about Schmalbach's disappearance, you're asked to call the Cape Coral Police Department.