A handsome and brilliant young man Mike Vanzandt is currently missing, but his devoted family won’t ever forget him and his wonderful brother Tyler is not going to leave this American hero behind. Highlight Hollywood caught up with Mike’s brother Tyler Vanzandt on Monday, a day after the critically acclaimed ID series “Disappearance” aired, and we asked him what has been the response to the episode? “The reaction from those closest to him [Mike] was that it was really well done, but it was incredibly hard to watch. A lot of work went into diving back into the physical and emotional archives of those days leading up to and following his disappearance. We are always nervous of how things are perceived and we were happy with the end result. It’s a lot to unpack in an hour long story; it could have been 10 hours. I was fortunate enough to watch it with Krishain [Mike’s ex-wife], her Fiancé Brett, and the kids and it was certainly harder for me than anticipated. People all over the globe have reached out with support with comments such as “his story touched me like no other.” The other side of it is that Internet is full of couch investigators, so you also get a number of insensitive comments and interesting takes that you need to prepare for. In aggregate, we welcome the attention on his case and are blessed to have had them chose Michael for the series,” Tyler tells us.
One can hope that the Discovery ID series “Disappearance” on Sunday, May 21, will make a difference. Hopefully someone with some knowledge of that night will speak up. Any clue is important and will be appreciated not only by the authorities, but his loving family as well.
When asked further how his brother’s beautiful children are doing, Tyler commented, “Michael’s kids are doing really well. They are settling into their new normal. They are very resilient, but after all they are still kids. So, I think the impact on them will be an evolving story that is told over years. Keaton, the oldest, just got his drivers license. Like he said in the show, he will definitely miss his dad in moments like that. My mom and Stepfather Keith are troopers. I flew them out to California a couple weeks ago as a Christmas present and it was very surreal for them to contrast what they thought of Hermosa vs. reality. I tell everyone that my worst day is behind me, so in contrast to the days following his disappearance, there are no bad days. I try to encourage the kids to not to take a victims mentality, but to focus on the lessons learned and to be a bright light in a dark situation. To give back to others they way many have given to them.”
Mike spent the evening with friends at trendy Hermosa Beach and somehow he turned up missing after taking a bathroom break. Video footage shows the father of three later looking for his friends who had just stepped away while he searched for a restroom that was working. It is as if he just disappeared, something we hear too often in the U.S., but Mike’s family is not going to forget about him and wherever you are, our readers are worldwide, please contact Hermosa Beach PD if you have any knowledge. Maybe someone was vacationing from Australia or even Connecticut or Maryland? Maybe you know someone who told you that they saw a confused man on the beach? Whatever you may know, you need to report it, so that his family can hopefully locate him and at the very least, offer his wife, parents, siblings and especially his children some closure.
Described as a rainy Saturday evening in March 2016 when Mike, who lived in Lancaster, Calif. met friends at The Underground in Hermosa to watch a UFC fight. That’s when the nightmare began.
“There are videos of him watching the fight, pictures of him having a good time,” Tyler has said. “They were going to stay down the road at one of the motels, certainly a planned evening.”
Hermosa Beach’s Pier Plaza is a popular hangout spot. Tyler said Mike had visited before to party with friends.
Mike later got into a line at American Junkie with some friends. It was a busy weekend on Pier Plaza, so he went next door to Roberts Liquor looking for a bathroom. He is captured on film going to the back of the liquor store towards the parking lot. He looked out, but turned around and returned to Pier Plaza.
“Meanwhile his friends had migrated to other bars,” Tyler said. “They had reached out to him via cell phone and his phone had been dead, so they weren’t able to reach him. I think the number showed they called him 20 some times that evening trying to get in touch with him.”
For the next couple hours, Mike is seen on cameras meandering about Pier Plaza looking in bars for his friends. He returns to Roberts Liquor where he purchased something to drink. The liquor store captured the dollar amount, but not what he bought, according to Tyler.
Mike eventually headed towards the beach. At 11:27 p.m., the camera at The Mermaid captured him walking northwest through its parking lot. Then he vanished. According to Tyler, there is no evidence of Mike heading either towards the ocean or north towards Manhattan Beach.
However, to everyone’s horror, Sunday morning March 6, the Air Force veteran Mike didn’t return to the hotel. His car was still parked in the same spot. His worried friends called jails and hospitals. On Monday, Mike didn’t show up for work where he was a Unit Training Manager, training security forces at Edwards Air Force Base. One of his colleagues and a friend whom he was out with that night filed a missing persons report and the other friend was “told to file a missing persons, though that was already done.”
“A friend of his drove down here and looked at his car and looked around,” Tyler said. “She met with someone from the Hermosa PD just to let them know. They said to file a missing person report.
“When adults go missing there is not much of a panic because it happens so frequently,” Tyler went on. “There’s a lot of bad that happens out there, so I understand there’s not a huge reaction to somebody going missing in a place like this.”
Never one to let anyone down, Mike now has his loyal brother Tyler searching for him, as evidenced on Sunday night’s “Disappeared” on Discovery ID. When asked if the fact that people may be watching now from any part of the world, that attended Spring Break in Hermosa Beach, and that one of the viewers could have a critical clue to help solve this case, the enigmatic family advocate suggested, “Tommy, I think that is exactly the hope. That someone remembers seeing something. Also, now that people know he is missing and what he looks like, maybe they identify him randomly someday, somewhere. Lastly, I think it’s important for strangers to take a number of lessons from his story. Be aware of your surroundings, charge your phone, stay with your friends, tell people you love them, don’t drink and swim, seek to understand and help others going through hardship, update your finances and will, trust your gut, etc…,” Tyler added.
Tyler, who was living in Baltimore at the time, knew something was terribly wrong when got the call his brother was missing. Mike was supposed to take his son to surgery Monday morning. He wouldn’t have missed that.
But Tyler didn’t tell his parents about Mike’s disappearance right away.
“I didn’t want everyone to be alarmed,” Tyler said. “We were still trying to figure out what was going on.”
Tyler booked a flight to L.A. that Tuesday morning. He was soon followed by his brother Charles. At the time, Mike was amicably separating from his wife, Krishain VanZandt, the mother of Mike’s children. She joined the two brothers and was “absolutely distraught” according to Tyler.
Although critical time was lost initially in the search, Tyler, ever the optimist believes the mystery surrounding brother Mike’s disappearance is still solvable. “I do not believe the police are still proactively investigating, however they address new information as it comes in. I never watched the local LA news until this happened and what is shocking is the amount of murders, accidents, drowning’s, and just the sheer amount of daily missing people that police all over the country have to filter through. That being said, I appreciate the HBPD very much and I think all parties wish we could have done more, sooner,” Tyler Vanzandt concluded. You can also watch the full episode if you haven’t seen it, by clicking here!
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Tyler Vanzandt
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