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Kirchhoff was last seen in Waterloo, Iowa on January 24, 1978. He spent the previous night with a girlfriend and apparently disappeared between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. the next day, possibly in a residence on Maxwell Street about a mile from his parents' home. A resident of one of the apartments there heard bumping noises and a man's voice saying, "Oh God, don't do this to me!" Kirchhoff was known to be a drug dealer and authorities think his disappearance may have been drug-related. They believe he was carrying up to $8,000 in cash when he disappeared, and possibly he was robbed and killed. Shortly after his disappearance, Kirchhoff's car was found in a parking lot at the Waterloo Industries Inc. factory near Maxwell street.
Another missing Iowa man, Richard Forsyth, may have been connected in some way to Kirchhoff's disappearance. There were rumors that he was seen carrying something wrapped in a rug the day after Kirchhoff vanished, and he bought a 1972 Cadillac for $2,000 the next day, paying in $100 bills. His face was bruised and bloody at the time, and he said he'd fallen on a wine bottle and had to get stitches. He left town that day and had his stitches removed in Manhattan, Kansas on February 1. After that he traveled to an uncle's home in Tucson, Arizona. By the time the police and Kirchhoff's parents tracked him to Arizona, Forsyth was gone.
In mid-1979, the Cadillac Forsyth bought was found in storage in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A man calling himself David Gates had left it there a year earlier, paying only one month's storage fee. The same day the car was left in storage, a man who called himself Richard Steves rented a room in Grand Forks, paying one month's rent, but he didn't stay even one night. Kirchhoff's parents believe believe Forsyth and "Richard Steves" may have been the same person, but the landlady couldn't identify Forsyth's photograph. The Kirchhoffs think Forsyth may have gone to Canada; the Canadian border is only 75 miles from Grand Forks. Forsyth's Cadillac was bloodstained, but the stains could not be matched to Kirchhoff's blood.
Forsyth was reported missing from Waterloo, Iowa on October 18, 1979. He remains listed as a missing person and has not been conclusively linked to Kirchhoff's case. Both men's cases remain unsolved.
In 2003, authorities acting on a tip began searching a rural 12-acre farmstead between Fairbank and Denver, Iowa for evidence related to Kirchhoff's case. It was once owned by a Waterloo man, Lonson "Lonnie" Luloff, who faced life in prison for federal methamphetamine and weapons charges in 1994 but was released in 2000 after cutting a deal with prosecutors. Luloff is described by investigators as one of the biggest drug suppliers in the area. Authorities are not calling him a suspect in Kirchhoff's disappearance, however, and nothing was found in the search of his farm.
Kirchhoff graduated from West High School in Waterloo in 1973; he was a good student there and worked part time. He was employed as a lineman for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad but had been laid off weeks before his disappearance. Nonetheless, Kirchhoff had just purchased a new house, was planning to marry the mother of his two-year-old child, and appeared to be in good spirits. Waterloo police are investigating Kirchhoff's disappearance.