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5th day of search for missing Milwaukee man

5th day of search for missing Milwaukee man

By the WTMJ News Team. CREATED Mar 12, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar 15, 2012

MILWAUKEE- Thursday brought the fifth day of searching for a 28-year-old man from Milwaukee who's been missing since Saturday at 10 p.m.

Tom Hecht was last seen Saturday night at Rosie's On Water after a pub crawl with friends.  Earlier Tuesday, the group again canvassed neighborhoods, sidewalks and streets Tom may have walked.

Tom's father, Robert, joined Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure and said this week has been a nightmare.  John asked him how he was doing as of Thursday afternoon.  "Not well," said Robert Hecht.  "This is a parent's worst nightmare.  There aren't adjectives to describe the situation.  You wake up at 3 a.m. and ask yourself, 'is this really happening, is this really happening to me?'"

Robert Hecht said that around 5 p.m. each night people have been meeting to organize a search effort throughout the downtown Milwaukee area.

People hoping to find Tom Hecht gathered at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Pick 'n Save at the corner of North Humboldt and West Garfield.  They were set to conduct a search in the Riverwest, Murray Hill, upper east side and lakefront neighborhoods.

People from both out of town and out of state joined the effort.  Terry Fargen and his wife drove from Madison. Tom is a groomsmen in their daughter's wedding this summer.  "We want to do whatever we can to help," said Terry Fargen.

Michael Sampson and other organizers of such pub crawls are taking heat for the excessive drinking involved with the events.  "It's a social event you're with your friends. You're going around having a good time," said Sampson.

Several neighborhood associations argue the pub crawls make the east side a destination for destructive drinking and is demanding the change.  The Greenwich Village Association voted Wednesday night that it's, "opposed to new and existing liquor licenses for bars that participate in ad hoc drunken street events."

Since then much of the attention to find him has centered near the water of the Milwaukee River, Lieutenant Jeff Ballering with the Milwaukee fire department dive rescue team says searching the river is not a simple task.  "There's no visibility so literally we would have to cover every square inch of the river and that's just impossible without a last seen spot," said Lt. Ballering.

Divers with Milwaukee police did hone in earlier this week on a spot in the third ward -- but that turned up nothing.   Milwaukee police used sonar to scan the river bottom and divers were also in the water.  "Images on a computer and then you have to interpret those images," said Lt. Jeff Ballering.

According to police, the river bottom is cluttered with debris of various sources; some of that debris is sizeable and requires further inspection once picked up on sonar.

Loved ones held a candlelight vigil outside his home Monday night, and TODAY'S TMJ4's Keller Russell reports they were to do the same Tuesday night with a "Walk of Hope for Tom" at 5:30 p.m. near the corner of Humboldt and Commerce Streets.

"This is a nightmare.  Anyone who is a parent and is hearing this..wouldn't want to trade places with me," said Robert Hecht.

Tom's girlfriend and other friends searched the Third Ward after a tip.

They say someone called police thinking they had seen Tom Hecht in the area of N. Milwaukee St. and E. Menomonee St. between 11:30 p.m and midnight Saturday.

Milwaukee police searched from the Milwaukee River on boats -- and so did Tom's family.  They are holding onto hope of finding anything pointing them to Tom and a safe return.

Earlier Monday, Tom Hecht's family canvassed the area posting photos, looking for clues.  All they can do to stay positive.

"It's when your mind wanders that you think of possibilities.  That is difficult..to say the least," said Robert Hecht.  He said his son was supposed to meet him on Sunday morning, but he never showed up.

Chloe Hecht says her brother, Tom, was out with about 15 of his friends on Saturday afternoon.  She talked to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Michelle Richards that most of the bars Tom and his friends went to were on Water Street.

According to police, he was last seen wearing a green t-shirt with a St. Patrick's Day inscription on the front and green beads around his neck.

If you have any information, you're asked to contact Milwaukee Police at 414-935-7401