Breaking News
More () »

Omaha family also disappears without a trace

Omaha family also disappears without a trace

(CBS 8) - A Nebraska family went missing without a trace in December, not unlike the McStays disappearance in Fallbrook over two weeks ago.

Two different families in separate states have both vanished in surprisingly similar circumstances, both leaving behind few clues and loved ones praying for a miracle.

Since mid-December, 36-year-old Vanderlei Szczepanik, his 43-year-old wife Jaqueline and their seven-year-old son Christopher have been missing. As in the McStay case, all of their belongings in the Szczepanik home were left behind with no sign of foul play. Soon after, the family's empty pick-up truck was found a few blocks away from the home and later their Dodge Caravan was recovered, offering investigators few clues.

The Szczepaniks - natives of Brazil - had moved to Omaha as part of their church to help renovate an old school building into a missionary center, where they'd also been living. Like in the McStay case, loved ones say they refuse to give up hope.

"Even though I don't know where they are, I do believe they are alive, somewhere," a family member said.

Meanwhile, the search for the McStays is going high-tech. A specialized search and rescue team out of Texas will deploy unmanned drones programmed to fly over the search area equipped with cameras capturing thousands of high-resolution digital images from 400 feet above the ground.

"You are able to zoom into the image and notice anything that is out of place," a team member said.

The infrared images can capture anything, from tire tracks to clothing to freshly moved earth, helping to guide the team's ground search on foot, ATV and horseback.