Unsolved: Wisconsin college student went missing in Porcupine Mountains 54 years ago

The only unsolved missing person case in the Porcupine Mountains is a Wisconsin college student who disappeared more than 50 years ago. His remains were last searched for last summer.

Around 10:30 a.m. on April 22, 1968, 19-year-old Michael Larson of Madison, Wis., told his mother he was going to get a haircut, according to a news release released this week by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Resources. No one ever saw him again.

Larson, a student at the University of Wisconsin, drove away in his green 1962 Volkswagen sedan. He was wearing green pants and a black sweater. At the time, unbeknownst to anyone, he also took with him a poncho and a map of Dickopine Mountains State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He withdrew $650 from his savings account.

Larson’s parents reported him missing two days later, after his abandoned car was found by a conservation officer in Porkies. It was parked on a remote side road near a gravel pit off the southern boundary road. The license plate was removed, the keys were in the ignition, and the gas tank was full.

Larson was described as 6 feet tall, weighing about 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He has never been in trouble with the law. His mother told police he was a top student at the University of Wisconsin and had “no sickness, enemies, family or girlfriend problems.” She also described him as an introvert.

He was neither a fisherman nor a hunter, but Larson could read maps and use a compass. He liked to go backpacking and did so in Porkis with his brother Tom, who was 18 when Larson disappeared. Larson was the oldest of four boys: Tom, Glenn, 15 at the time of his disappearance, and Dan, 12.

Missing: Michael Larson

This 1965 photo shows Michael Larson near a cabin with squirrels he has packed.Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

By November 1968, nothing had been found to indicate Larson’s whereabouts. The Antonagon County Sheriff asked hunters to be on the lookout for evidence. Two days after the deer hunting season ended, a hunter found a boot in the woods with a human leg bone sticking out of it. The leg was attached to the leg that was still in the boot. The hunter reported his find. A search the following day found the relevant bot about 50 yards away along with chewed bones. The bite marks on the boots appear to have been from a bear.

The University of Michigan’s science department identified the bones as belonging to a white male over 17 years old. It was not possible to find out other details.

The answer to what happened to Michael Larson is waiting to be discovered or lost to time.

“My brothers think he may have gone up there and committed suicide,” Tom Larson told the DNR. He does not believe.

Tom Larson hopes hunters heading into the woods this deer season with firearms will look for bones or other artifacts that can be compared to his DNA for a positive match. The bones collected in 1968 have gone missing.

Missing: Michael Larson

Brothers Tom and Dan Larson visit Porcopine Mountains Desert State Park in June 2022 (Photo by Tom Larson)Courtesy of Tom Larson

During June, law enforcement officers and dogs searched the area where the car was found. Tom and Dan Larson also visited the state park in June. In August, officers and cadaver dogs searched the area where the bones were found. Efforts found nothing.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Michael Larson of Madison, Wis., is asked to contact Park Superintendent Michael Knack at 906-885-5274.


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