UPDATE: On January 21, the Indiana State Police Department announced that the body of Kenneth Brian Colbert was found.
The press release states that on Friday, January 20, “at approximately 12:00 p.m., Indiana State Police Detective Toni Walden was searching along Old US 41 south of CR 150 South when she located Colbert’s 2017 Toyota Avalon under a bridge. A male matching the description of Colbert was located inside the vehicle.”
Dateline spoke with Brian’s stepdaughter, Dee Brodie. She told Dateline that search parties looked for Brian in the area he was found multiple times since his disappearance and did not see him. “That car has not been under there,” she said.
But according to the release, officials believe that “sometime during the evening of December 9th, Colbert was traveling south on Old US 41 south of CR 150 South when he drove left of center, left the roadway on the east side, dropped down into a deep ravine, overturned, and entered Pigeon Creek near the bridge,” and that “anyone traveling on Old US 41 would not have been able to see the vehicle. Detectives also believe that when the creek level increased due to recent rainfall, the vehicle moved under the bridge making it even more difficult to spot.”
On January 21, “Gibson County Coroner Barrett Doyle identified the person in the 2017 Toyota Avalon as Brian Colbert, 47, of Evansville. An autopsy was also conducted, but the results are pending,” the release states.
Dateline spoke with Indiana State Police Department Public Information Officer Todd Ringle. He confirmed that the autopsy results are pending and said that as of right now, his office doesn’t “have any signs or evidence that indicates foul play.”
Brian’s stepdaughter disagrees. She told Dateline that her family firmly believes that foul play is involved in Brian’s death. She also said that they are extremely concerned with the way police are handling the investigation. “They literally said your father is deceased because there was a vehicle accident,” Dee said. “How dare you say that when autopsy results are still pending?”
Officer Ringle told Dateline that “everything is being done correctly” and that “top-notch detectives” are handling the case.
There is no additional information regarding the case at this time.
“It’s not like him to not come home,” Yashema Colbert told Dateline. “He always comes home.”
Yashema’s husband, 47-year-old Kenneth “Brian” Colbert went missing on December 9, 2022.
“It’s just awful. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anybody,” Yashema said. “I know it has, but it’s just awful.”
Yashema told Dateline that her husband is originally from Chicago but moved to her hometown of Evansville, Indiana in the ‘90s. She said the two met at a gas station 26 years ago. “He was quiet,” Yashema said. “Just a nice guy.”
“Once he gets to know you he talks more,” Yashema said. “He likes everybody.”
According to Yashema, Brian has five children and two stepchildren. Dateline spoke with Yashema’s daughter, Brian’s stepdaughter, De’Ajah Brodie.
De’Ajah told Dateline she is very close with her stepfather. “He’s a family man,” De’Ajah said. “He likes cookouts and, you know, anything that we have to do with our family.”
“I can say family man over and over again,” De’Ajah said. “He’s a very happy guy. He’s nice to everybody.”
Yashema, told Dateline Brian was with the family on the night of December 8. She said she last saw her husband when they went to bed, and everything was normal.
The next morning, on December 9, Brian got up early for work, as he always does, according to Yashema. She was still sleeping. “He gets up and goes at like 5,” she said. “I don’t have to start work until 8.”
Yashema told Dateline that Brian worked at Toyota Boshoku in Princeton, Indiana – about 45 minutes away from their home in Evansville. “He was a team member,” Yashema said, adding that her husband loved his job. “My husband never misses work,” she said.
Yashema said that around 11 a.m. that day she was texting her husband. “He asked me if I wanted to watch a movie and then he said, ‘I should have took the chicken out.’ He had a taste for chicken,” Yashema recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’d watch a movie but I have to run errands,’ because we were getting ready for Christmas.”
Because of their plans, Yashema said when she got home around 9:30 p.m., she was surprised to see her husband hadn’t been home yet. “He would normally come in -- if he’s gonna run somewhere he would turn on some lights,” she said, but “It was completely black.”
Yashema told Dateline she tried texting her husband and the messages “never showed delivered.” She said she then tried calling and Brian’s phone went straight to voicemail. “I tried to have one of my friends call and it did the same thing,” Yashema said. “I tried calling it again and the phone just started clicking off, like it wouldn’t -- there was no voicemail or anything.”
Yashema said she began to grow worried and accessed her husband’s phone records. “There wasn’t any phone calls on the bill, so I went to the text log and there was a couple of numbers on there,” she said. Yashema told Dateline she searched one of the numbers, and it came back as one of Brian’s coworkers. Yashema told Dateline that Brian was close with this coworker. “He was, like, friends with him for like five years,” she said.
Yashema told Dateline she tried calling the coworker, but the calls were going straight to voicemail. She said she then drove to his house. “I said, ‘You know what? I bet he’s just at [the coworkers] house,’ and you know, ‘They’re probably just hanging out,’ or whatever,” she said. But Yashema said when she got to the coworker’s house in Princeton, her husband was nowhere to be found.
Yashema told Dateline she then returned home with the hope that Brian would eventually walk through the door. “I waited, I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I don’t care if he’s been out with friends or whatever – he always comes home.”
But Brian never came home.
Yashema told Dateline that the next day, she was able to get ahold of Brian’s coworker. According to Yashema, the coworker said that Brian was over at his house on the evening of December 9. “[Brian] told him that he ‘had to get home because he had to work the next day,’” Yashema told Dateline.
Dateline reached out to Brian’s coworker but has yet to receive a response.
On December 10, Yashema reported her husband missing to the Evansville Police Department.
On December 19, 2022, the Evansville Police Department posted about Brian’s disappearance on their Facebook page. The post states that “Kenneth Brian Colbert was reported missing to the Evansville Police Department on December 10th,” and that “the last time that his family had contact with Colbert was on December 9th through text messages, but he never came home from work.”
According to the post, “Colbert works in Princeton, IN, and the Princeton PD is also aware that he is considered missing.”
Dateline reached out to the Evansville Police Department who said that the Indiana State Police Department is now handling Brian’s disappearance. Indiana State Police Department Public Information Officer, Todd Ringle, told Dateline that their office “absolutely” does not suspect foul play at this time. Officer Ringle was unable to provide any further details regarding Brian’s disappearance at this time.
Yashema told Dateline she believes her husband was met with foul play. “They kept saying that my husband just left,” Yashema said, referring to the conversations she had with police. But Yashema said her husband would never just do that. “Absolutely not. He would never, ever do anything like that,” she said.
Yashema told Dateline that there are several clues that indicate that something bad happened to her husband. She said that she called her cell phone provider to find out what happened to Brian’s phone, and they told her that his “sim card was destroyed.”
Brian’s plum-colored Toyota Avalon is also missing. “A 3,000-pound car doesn’t just disappear in an instant,” Brian’s stepdaughter, De’Ajah said. She told Dateline that her stepfather had recently purchased the car so it didn’t have plates yet.
De’Ajah told Dateline that because of Brian’s past criminal history, she believes police aren’t investigating thoroughly. “He’s a family man, he’s not a criminal,” De’Ajah said. “He has a past, but he’s not a criminal. He’s a human being.”
According to De’Ajah, friends and family organized a search party to look for Brian in the Princeton area. “We got the search together on December 17,” De’Ajah said. She told Dateline that they received assistance from the Chaos Divers team, too.
Dateline spoke with Chaos Divers manager, Lindsay Bussick, and founder, Jacob Grubbs.
“It started out as environmental cleanup,” Lindsay told Dateline about the organization. And then, “Jacob was part of a vehicle recovery. At that point in time, Jacob knew he wanted to do that full time. He wanted to search for missing loved ones who were lost with their vehicles.”
Lindsay said that in the last 15 months, the organization has been able to recover 15 people.
On Tuesday, January 10, they joined the search for Brian. “We told the family that if he is any water, we should be able to find him,” Jacob Grubbs told Dateline. “We started with the last known location which was at the friends’ house.”
According to Lindsay, they have searched the Wabash River, the White River, and some small retention ponds in the Indiana area. She said they obtained permission to search a small retention pond at Brian’s place of work — the Toyota Boshuko in Princeton. “With Brian being familiar with that area, did he go back to work that night for some reason? Did he forget something?” Lindsay said. “We didn’t find anything.”
Lindsay and Jacob told Dateline they will keep looking for Brian. “We will not stop searching for Brian until he is either found or the family asks us to stop,” Lindsay said.
Yashema said their family will never stop looking for answers in her husband’s disappearance, either. “Our son just turned 10. He’s completely devastated,” Yashema said. “His dad made cookies for him. His dad was his buddy.”
Brian is about 5'10” tall with a skinny build. He weighs around 165 lbs. and has a tattoo on the right side of his neck. According to his wife, he has several other tattoos including her name, Yashema, on his ribs. He was last seen wearing light-wash jeans, a dark Toyota jacket, and a red Chicago hat. He drives a 2017 plum-colored Toyota Avalon which is also still missing.
Anyone with information about Brian’s disappearance is asked to contact the Indiana State Police Department at 800-852-3970.