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Wife holds out hope missing man has amnesia

A Milwaukee banking executive who has been missing since March 22 had injured his head in February and never sought medical attention, leading his wife to believe he vanished after becoming disoriented from the blow.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Banking executive Keith Gores was so devoted to his work that he always arrived ahead of time for meetings.

"He taught me right away there's only one way to attend a meeting and that's five minutes early," said George Mort, Gores' colleague for 27 years at a downtown bank. "This was a guy that was very punctual."

That's why colleagues and friends knew immediately that something was wrong when Gores failed to show up for a morning meeting on March 22. He had never missed a meeting in more than three decades of banking.

Two weeks later, authorities are struggling to find leads in the case, and Gores' wife refuses to give up hope that her 56-year-old husband is alive. Sara Gores is convinced he may have become lost after suffering confusion or amnesia that developed after he slipped and struck his head.

On the morning of his disappearance, Keith Gores suffered blurred vision and lounged on the couch, apparently thinking it was Saturday.

After his wife reminded him it was Thursday, he hastily dressed and left their suburban home for his job as a vice president at Marshall & Ilsley Bank. He never arrived.

Several people reported seeing Gores in a confused state later that day.

One person at a hotel near the bank told investigators Gores requested directions to an athletic club where he had been a member for some 20 years — even though he was only three blocks away.

A former co-worker also greeted Gores that morning, but Gores looked as though he did not recognize his friend, Gores' wife said.

Police said another witness reported seeing someone matching Gores' description walking along a bike path on the same day near a marina where Gores' car was later found. But there were no reported sightings after that.

Didn't seek medical help for injury
Sara Gores, 40, blames her husband's disappearance on a head injury he suffered Feb. 23 after slipping on ice while walking the couple's dog.

Her husband told her he saw stars when his head hit the pavement, and he did not remember whether he lost consciousness. He never sought medical attention because he believed he had only a minor cut.

Now she thinks the blow may have caused bleeding in her husband's brain that gradually led to severe disorientation and perhaps amnesia.

Her theory is plausible, said Erik S. Lande, a neuropsychologist in private practice in Oxnard, Calif. Even if there were no initial symptoms of impairment, gradual bleeding could create serious problems.

"If there is a bleed, it could stop by itself. But if it's bringing about that level of confusion and disorientation, it's just as likely to keep bleeding until it becomes life-threatening," Lande said. "There's still room for optimism, but after this much time, only to a lesser extent."

Authorities have no reason to believe a crime was committed.

"By no means is anyone giving up hope. It's too early for that," said Brian Kaebisch, police chief in suburban St. Francis. "But we're at a point where we're following up on every bit of information that's coming in."

There has been no activity on Gores' credit cards, and he was not carrying a cell phone when he vanished, Kaebisch said.

Officers found his car within hours, parked and locked at the McKinley Marina, where the Gores spent nearly every summer day. The Gores own a boat, but it is still locked in storage.

No sign in the waters
The Coast Guard surveyed the waters, and investigators performed at least four extensive searches of surrounding areas but found nothing.

Search dogs picked up Gores' scent near the marina, which ruled out speculation the car might have been stolen and left by a thief, police Capt. Tom Dietrich said.

Gores, who was wearing a blue suit with his initials inside the coat, is not a strong swimmer, his wife said.

The bank where Gores worked has taken out ads in newspapers in Milwaukee, Appleton, Green Bay and Chicago, as well as Denver, where the couple has a second home. The ads include Keith's photo and a plea to call police with information.

Sara Gores acknowledged that hope is fading with each passing day.

"I'm a little frustrated," she said. "You try to have patience, but it's really, really hard."