Metro-East News

Missing man found alive, spends night in barn as police search

Searching for suicidal felon near Belleville

Family members pinged Todd Pinta's cell phone and found his car in a rural area near Belleville, IL. They reported he was suicidal and missing. Dogs, a helicopter and emergency workers were searching for him Monday afternoon. St. Clair County Sher
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Family members pinged Todd Pinta's cell phone and found his car in a rural area near Belleville, IL. They reported he was suicidal and missing. Dogs, a helicopter and emergency workers were searching for him Monday afternoon. St. Clair County Sher

A missing man was found alive and taken to a local hospital about 6 p.m. Monday.

Todd M. Pinta, 37, was reported missing to the Belleville Police Department on Sunday. His family told police he had been missing and they felt he may be wanting to harm himself, according to a press release issued Monday by St. Clair County Sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Fleshren.

“We are certainly happy for the family that the person was located and in good condition,” Fleshren wrote.

Deputies began checking farm building in the area, Fleshren said. A homeowner in the 1600 block of Eiler Road told deputies that there were some unknown shoeprints in his barn. Upon further inspections, deputies determined that the shoe patterns look similar to ones that were found Monday morning near the bridge. Deputeis continued to search the barn and found Pinta hiding in the loft of the barn, Fleshren wrote a press release issued on Monday evening.

This is apparently where he hid after deputies showed up at his car during the night, Fleshren stated.

The owners of the property didn’t know Pinta, the press release stated, and do not want any other persons on their property.

Pinta apparently spent the night in a barn, but Fleshren did not say exactly where he was found. He was located a few hours after tracking dogs were brought in.

“The family had called the sheriff’s department because they were able to track his phone to a road at 7033 Town Hall Road near Belleville. There they found his 2006 Nissan parked at the end of the road near a creek. Pinta could not be located at this time. The terrain, weather and darkness prevented any large scale search at that time,” the release stated.

His twin sister, Nicole, said her brother had no connection to the property where his car was found and she had no idea why he would be there.

“We just want him home,” Nicole Pinta said before Todd Pinta was found.

Nicole Pinta said her missing twin was not emotionally disturbed and she suspects foul play because something was amiss with his car when they found it Sunday night. Todd Pinta is a felon who had multiple rape charges dropped and was featured in a

Search dogs were arriving at 4 p.m. on Monday and a police helicopter circled farm fields, the wooded areas and a creek nearby. A bridge was washed out on Town Hall Road, requiring search crews to use Eiler Road to get at distant portions of the property where Pinta’s car was found.

Searchers and dogs focused on a creek bank that Pinta may have climbed.

At the search, Fleshren said there was a creek that Pinta may have tried to cross.

Darrell Davis, who lives on Town Hall Road, said his dogs were barking wildly about 1:30 a.m. on Monday. He woke up and saw police and an ambulance.

Pinta was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault in 2008 after his former girlfriend, Amber Mers, accused him of a violent attack that left her hospitalized for days. Court records show that Pinta was charged with raping three women on separate occasions — all former girlfriends — but the only charge that stuck was domestic battery in Mers’ case. He served two years in prison.

In 2008, while Pinta was on parole for beating Mers, a St. Clair County grand jury indicted him on a charge of raping another Belleville woman. The first rape charge came in 2001 in St. Louis. All three sexual assault accusations resulted in formal rape charges that later were dismissed.

BND reporters interviewed Pinta when he was on parole on a burglary charge. He was living in Sullivan, Mo. and operating a business owned by a family member.

Pinta denied that he sexually assaulted either woman. He told reporters in 2014 that the cases were about domestic violence and said, “I could get them both to come to dinner tonight. You could take a picture.”

On Monday morning, deputies resumed their search for Pinta and found tracks indicating that Pinta may have walked back to the road. The family was also searching the area and around 2 p.m. they told police they believed they had found Pinta’s shirt on a tree branch near the creek.

With this information the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency was contacted to activate members to search the area more thoroughly search the area which is at the end of 1604 Eiler Road near Belleville. Dogs and Millstadt Fire Department conducted searches beginning at 3 p.m. on Monday.

He was found about 6 p.m.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer