Editor’s note — This is the second of a three-part investigative series on convicted two-time Highland County murderer Michael Fogt. After the bodies of his former wife and an acquaintance were discovered in Hillsboro in 2005, Fogt’s involvement in other local crimes was called into question. His connections to the disappearances of Carrie Culberson and Shane Neuhaus have led some to believe he could be a Highland County serial killer. In this story the disappearance of Shane Neuhaus is examined, drawing light to the strange connections between him Fogt.
Shane Neuhaus was only 35 at the time of his disappearance in September 2003. The exact circumstances of the night he went missing are hazy. What investigators do know is that he was with a friend, Shawn A. Deardroff, in east Hillsboro. Deardroff was later charged with felonious assault after confessing to an altercation, but there was no evidence that Deardoff was responsible for Neuhaus’ death. For reasons undisclosed, law enforcement considered Fogt a major suspect in the case, not Deardroff.
According to Fox-19 News, investigators “found evidence linking Fogt to Neuhaus.” Even before police uncovered his other murders, Fogt was questioned on this case, but ultimately was not charged.
Unfortunately, the case did not receive a lot of news coverage. For one, Neuhaus was an adult male from a rural area, which doesn’t tend to grab headlines like other cases. In addition, Neuhaus was known to participate in risky activities, according to a Fox 19 interview with his mother, Joyce Poe. She said her son started to go down the “wrong path,” had “problems with people” and was looking to purchase a gun. His family was saddened at his disappearance, but after time passed, the family gave up hope of finding him alive. Now, they only hope for closure on what happened to him.
At the time of Nauhaus’ disappearance in 2003, Fogt’s murders had not been uncovered, making his connection to the Neuhaus case even more questionable. Fogt had been in trouble with the law many times before, but never as a murder suspect, so his status as a person of interest is likely largely based on evidence rather than arbitrary suspicion. While the exact evidence that connected them has not been revealed to the public, it is known that Neuhaus was a former employee and associate of Fogt’s. The exact context of his employment is also unknown. It is possible Neuhaus worked for Fogt at his auto repair shop along U.S. Route 50 on the east side of Hillsboro, where one of Fogt’s victims was found buried. In any case, their apparent connections led law enforcement to take a closer look at Fogt as a potential suspect in Neuhaus’ disappearance.
During the initial search for Cynthia Pickens’ body detailed in the last installment of this series, Fogt was in county jail on unrelated charges. According to Fox 19, Fogt gave police another privately divulged location where Nauhaus’ body could be found, but a thorough search yielded no major discoveries. This leads to two possible conclusions: either Fogt explicitly told police about this “second location” or it was discovered by investigators looking into the case on their own and without Fogt’s help.
Either way, nothing was uncovered, but it does raise questions like where was this mystery location? And could it be the site of Neuhaus’ body or the bodies of other missing people that could have fallen victim to this killer?
Neuhaus’ body has never been found, and police have never charged Fogt with foul play related to the case. In prison, Fogt has never admitted any connection to Neuhaus’ disappearance, but the time period, proximity to the site of the disappearance, and his history of violence makes many people wonder if Fogt has been responsible for the deaths of more than just his two known victims.
If alive today, Neuhaus would be 53 years old. It’s been more than 18 years since he disappeared without a trace, and the culprit(s) have yet to be found.
In the next installment of the Fogt series, yet another possible victim, well-known missing person Carrie Culberson, has been tied to Fogt, and it’s a story that has more twists and turns than anyone expected.
Isabella Bella Warner was a stringer for The Times-Gazette.