Missing 'million dollar' homeless man might be roaming Maplewood

A city alderman made a promise to the man's dying mother that he would keep an eye out for her son.

Kevin Killeen
September 24, 2019 - 6:38 pm
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MAPLEWOOD, Mo. (KMOX) — Standing on the bluff overlooking a creek at Manchester and Hanley, St. Louis City Alderman Joe Vaccaro called out for the millionaire homeless man who's missing.

"Gary, Gary ... are you there?"

But there was no answer. Vaccaro says it's been a couple of years since he talked with Gary Schaefer, a former resident of Tholozan Avenue in the city, a friend of the family whose dying mother, Vaccaro says, made him promise to keep an eye out for her son.

Vaccaro says a few years back he set up a bank account in Schaefer's name "with about a million dollars" of the family's money in it. 

The southside alderman has been holding hearings about homeless people in the city and says his thoughts turned to Schaefer.

"He had my phone number and should have called me if something happened," Vaccaro said.

Vaccaro says only Schaefer's name is on the bank account, and he doesn't know what would happen to the money if Schaefer were dead.

In addition to having a large bank account, Schaefer would also have a St. Louis Fire Department pension, Vaccaro says, from when he worked on the department "driving the chief around."

As to why such a man of means would prefer to live homelessly, Vaccaro says, "some people don't like rules," and they like to be free.

Schaefer is described as white, thin, about 6 feet tall, with straggly gray hair and a beard. He was often seen riding a spray-painted bicycle and has an unusual odor about him.

"He likes to drink a spot of turpentine for his health," Vaccaro said.

Maplewood Police say the description of Schaefer sounds familiar, and they were checking to determine if he was seen by anyone recently in the town.

If you've got a tip on where to find Schaefer, email Kevin Killeen at kakilleen@kmox.com.

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