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Loved ones hoping for safe return of missing Illinois man Eric Fischer who disappeared in January 2023

Eric was last seen on January 8 leaving a Walmart after buying a bike in Macomb, Illinois.

“I feel like people have forgotten about him,” Rachael Calfee told Dateline. “I just want to know that he’s safe.”

Rachael’s boyfriend, Eric Fischer, has been missing for seven months. The 38-year-old was last seen on January 8, 2023, in Macomb, Illinois.

“He needs people to be looking out for him,” she said.

Rachael told Dateline that she and Eric began dating two and a half years ago. “We met on Facebook, actually,” she recalled. “He had a great personality. He definitely [drew] me in.”

Rachael and Eric
Rachael and EricRachael Calfee

One of her favorite things about Eric, Rachel said, is the love he has for his children. “He cared a lot for his children,” Rachael told Dateline on Monday. “He has a boy and a girl and, actually, today is his daughter’s birthday and my daughter’s birthday, as well.”

Rachael told Dateline that at the time of his disappearance, Eric was living by himself in an apartment in Macomb.

She said she spoke to him on January 6. “Eric had been having a pretty rough time the last couple of days,” Rachael recalled. “Just a lot of things had been going on in his life that hadn’t been very appealing for someone to deal with during the holidays.”

Rachael told Dateline that during their conversation, Eric was “apologizing about things and things that were not going well” and that it “was just a very difficult conversation.”

That was the last time Rachael heard Eric’s voice.

Eric Fischer
Eric FischerRachael Calfee

Rachael said she got a message from Eric’s former mother-in-law two days later, on Sunday, January 8. “I got a message from his ex-wife’s mom asking me if I had heard from him,” she recalled. “It was the weekend for his children to be there and he had sent a text message to his ex-wife telling her not to bring the children over,” she said. The text to the ex-wife included indications that Eric might have been having suicidal thoughts.

Dateline spoke to Eric’s former sister-in-law, Chelsea Teel. “He sent a text to my sister that was concerning enough for her to call the police,” she said. “It seemed suicidal in nature. It seemed a little strange to her the way it was said.”

Chelsea told Dateline that she and her husband met the police at Eric’s apartment that day. “I went to his house when the police were there to help them to get in and to see what’s going on,” she said. But Eric wasn’t home. “The police thought it was concerning enough that they immediately issued a missing persons report.”

On January 8, the Macomb Police Department posted on their Facebook Page that they were searching for Eric and that he is considered “missing and endangered.” According to the post, investigators “only wish to make sure he is OK and connect him with the services he may need.”

Macomb Chief of Police Jeff Hamer told Dateline in an email that Eric was last captured on surveillance footage around noon on January 8 at a Walmart in Macomb.

According to the chief, the video showed Eric purchasing items, including a bicycle, and that he appeared to be by himself.

Eric’s girlfriend, Rachael, told Dateline that the video also showed Eric purchasing a bike pump and a container of deodorant. “He was witnessed airing up the tires and leaving in a certain direction from the Walmart,” she said.

Chief Hamer told Dateline that there were several searches conducted for Eric. “A large portion of land located to the northeast of Macomb was searched by area law enforcement agencies. Residents in that area were questioned regarding Fischer and several outbuildings were subsequently searched as well,” he said. “Volunteer search parties were assembled and independently searched the same area.”

Hamer said investigators also pinged Eric’s phone to a location near 14955 E 1600th St. in Macomb, about five miles from the Walmart where Eric bought the bicycle.

Foul play is not suspected in Eric’s disappearance at this time.

Although Rachael said she isn’t sure exactly what happened to Eric, she is confident of one thing. “He would never leave behind his children like that,” she said.

Eric’s former sister-in-law, Chelsea, said she isn’t sure, either, but knows that Eric’s kids miss him dearly. “He’s a great dad. He loves his kids,” she said. “It’s one thing to have a parent not be present, but then to have no idea what’s going on or where that parent is or what’s happening is so much harder.”

Both Rachael and Chelsea told Dateline they are still holding on to hope that Eric is out there alive somewhere.

“I just feel like maybe he could be out there somewhere and not know who he is,” Rachael said, tearfully. “I just want his face to still be out there.”

Eric is 5’11”, 175 lbs., with brown hair and a brown beard. He was last seen wearing a black and grey North Face coat, a black Jeep hoodie, a black baseball cap, blue jeans, black tennis shoes, and sunglasses. He has several tattoos.

Anyone with information about Eric’s disappearance is asked to call the Macomb Police Department at 309-833-4505.