Michaela Nelson is a specialist with the Ohio National Guard who was reported missing. She has been missing for more than a month, but her family believes she is still alive. Nelson is 26.
The National Guard told Dayton 24/7 Nelson went missing October 26, 2021, and she had not been heard from as of November 28. Nelson’s father, Lance Nelson, told the news outlet she attended Advanced Individual Training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and returned home to Ohio October 1. Fox News reported she failed to return to her unit in Dayton, Ohio on October 2.
Authorities are asking the public to be on the lookout for Nelson’s dark gray 2016 Dodge Charger SXT. Anyone with information is asked to call the Columbus Police Department at 614-645-4545 or to call Gulf Coast Investigation at 813-993-2242.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nelson’s Family Last Saw Her at Her Mother’s Funeral in September
Nelson’s mother died in September, and her family members last saw her at the funeral, Dayton 24/7 reported.
Her last contact with friends and relatives was at the end of October in a text message exchange with her grandmother, Fox News reported.
Nelson had a restraining order against an ex, but it is no longer active, her dad told Fox News.
License plate readers in Columbus, Ohio, picked up her car near an apartment where she lived between October 6 and 15, Lance Nelson told Fox News, but her vehicle was gone when authorities conducted a sweep of the area after she was reported missing.
He told the Dayton news outlet before Thanksgiving that he was dreading the holiday without his daughter.
“It’ll be rough,” he said.
2. Nelson’s Family Believes She Is Still Alive & May Be Hiding
James Terry, a private investigator her family hired to find her, told Fox News her phone is off, but her FaceTime still rings, indicating she is still using a phone.
“She’s using a phone, some sort of phone,” he told Fox News. “She just doesn’t have her number on.”
The private investigator told Fox that after the death of her mother, along with new social interests, she may have experienced a priority shift, and may be trying to avoid punishment for failing to return to her unit.
The Ohio National Guard said her safe return is the priority.
“First and foremost, Spc. Nelson’s health and safety are our priority,” an Ohio Army National Guard spokesperson told Fox News. “Any discussion of discipline or administrative action is not a priority.”
3. Nelson Had a Large Following on TikTok, Where She Had Posted Updates on Her Life
Nelson, who used the name Michaela Kay on TikTok, posted life updates on her account that provided some information on her whereabouts in the days and weeks leading up to her disappearance. She had more than 18,000 followers on her account.
On August 9, 2021, she addressed rumors that she had failed out of Officer Candidate School. She said she was returning to AIT because she wanted to become a specialty branch officer. She also said she had plans to go to graduate school.
She shared a photo collage with pictures from her military service August 29, 2021. She shared workout videos on September 4 and 5. The last post was on September 5.
“don’t trust nobody but myself and God,” she captioned a video posted August 8, 2021.
4. Nelson’s Father Said His Daughter Was ‘Dealing With a Lot of Grief
Lance Nelson told Dayton 24/7 that his daughter was enduring a period filled with grief. She had been divorced a year ago, he said. Nelson’s mother, Jacquelyn Jean Miller Nelson, died from breast cancer September 16, 2021, according to her obituary. After her mother’s death, she was evicted from her apartment, he told the news outlet.
“You go through a divorce, there’s a lot of grief. That was a year ago. Losing her mother a few months ago to breast cancer and then getting evicted from an apartment,” he told Dayton 24/7.
Jacquelyn Nelson was 59 when she died. Her obituary discusses how she raised her five children. Michaela Nelson was the oldest.
“Jacque was a generous, wise, and loving woman who sacrificed daily for her family,” the obituary says. “Every evening, she delighted in sharing conversations with her husband and children over dinner. She admired their unique gifts, talents, and traits and was so proud of each of them. Anyone who has spent time with Jacque will know that while she seemed quiet and reserved at first, she cared deeply for the people in her life. She listened to them, asked them questions, and never claimed the spotlight for herself. Jacque had a beautiful smile and when she welcomed you with it, you felt like you were home.”
5. Nelson Was a College Athlete & Has Friends Who Are Professional Athletes
Nelson was an athlete throughout her high school and college years, according to Fox News. She attended Xenia Christian High School in southwestern Ohio, where she was a four-year letter winner, the news outlet reported. She was also a college athlete, running track at Cedarville University.
Fox News reported that Nelson began spending time with a new group of friends in the months leading up to her disappearance. Those new friends included professional athletes, Fox News reported. She joined the National Guard in September 2020, Dayton 24/7 reported.
“We just have to believe she’s okay,” Lance Nelson told the news outlet. “She’s just taking time away from us or has some sort of new life.”