Image: The Schade family
AP
The Schade family of Creighton, Neb., was last seen March 20. Pictured clockwise from the top are Matt Schade, Rowena Schade, 8-year-old Sean and 11-year-old Devon.
updated 4/2/2009 3:55:14 PM ET 2009-04-02T19:55:14

Members of a missing Nebraska family whose car was found in the Black Hills of South Dakota were interviewed about allegations of abuse on the day they were last seen nearly two weeks ago, authorities said Thursday.

The black Ford Taurus was found Tuesday, and authorities were searching for Matthew and Rowena Schade and their children, Devon, 11, and Sean, 8, in rugged terrain near the Pactola Reservoir and the village of Silver City.

They were last seen March 20 at their home 400 miles away in Creighton, Neb. All four were interviewed that day by a Knox County deputy sheriff about allegations of abuse, according to statements from Nebraska and South Dakota law enforcement agencies.

Deputy made offer of help
The deputy "made an offer of help and counseling. No arrests were made and no injuries were observed," Knox County Sheriff Jim Janecek said in a release. He did not comment further.

Matthew Schade, 26, is on probation in Nebraska for burglary, and an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to notify a probation officer of his whereabouts, the statement said. Rowena Schade, 29, was also on probation but authorities did say why.

Investigators said the Schades, who spent their honeymoon in the Black Hills, had talked about relocating. It also appeared they left the house in a hurry with more than $1,000 worth of "camping survival type gear" they had recently purchased.

"We believe their intention is not to be found so we have to structure our search teams differently to make sure we have law enforcement on them. It's pretty rugged terrain in there," Maj. Brian Mueller of the Pennington County Sheriff's office told The Associated Press.

Attended a survival camp
For six years in a row, Matthew Schade attended a survival camp in the search area through his church and "expressed he would like to live like a hermit in the mountains," Mueller said in news release.

A ground and air search resumed Thursday and focused on the numerous abandoned mines, cabins and other buildings in the isolated Pactola Reservoir area, as well as meadows and creek beds that would serve well as a camp, Mueller said.

About 2 feet of new snow covered the area since the car was abandoned, Mueller said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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