Search continues for missing Catawba Co. man

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CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. —

A cellphone and keys were found buried under dirt near a missing man's pickup truck, officials said.

Workers who called for help found items out of place, including Ken Mohler's cellphone and keys covered by dirt. 

Bud Ellenburg showed Eyewitness News where he discovered Mohler's belongings, just feet from where the 70-year-old’s truck was parked at Gregory Wood Products near Newton.

“Right about here where I'm pointing is where we found his cellphone and keys barely under the dirt,” Ellenburg said.

He added: “We heard it. We were looking everywhere -- ‘Whose phone is ringing?’ And there it was in the dirt.”

But that's not the only thing found out of place at the business. A front-end loader had been used.   

Ellenburg said it appeared someone tried to use the equipment to steal two electric engines.  He believes the thieves showed up Thursday night, while Mohler was doing repair work there by himself.

“You can come up with all kinds of scenarios, and we're just looking at what we have right now and we don't have a whole lot now,” said Capt. Joel Fish with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies began pulling phone records on Monday for Mohler's cellphone. Already, they have searched the property around the plant for the missing 70-year-old.  

His family met with investigators on Monday. Over the weekend, they put up hundreds of flyers asking for the public's help.  His son also drove from Pennsylvania to help with the search efforts.

“He is one of the nicest guys you would want to meet,” Kenny Mohler said. “Just disbelief. We're trying to put pieces of the puzzle together and make sense of it.”

Eyewitness News asked investigators whether they are looking into a possible theft. They said they are looking into that and added that they have been called to the business before because of other thefts.