Search continues for missing Jewell man

A search for a missing man from Jewell has expanded, according to Hamilton County Sheriff Denny Hagenson.

Kenneth Heckman, last seen Thursday at 6 a.m., was reported missing by his family on Friday at 11:05 a.m. Heckman turned 46 on Thursday and did not show up for a planned birthday party.

His family said authorities found Heckman’s pickup truck and dog in a farm field and may have left the truck on a backhoe, which is also missing. The backhoe is a yellow New Holland model, with a Tito Construction decal on the side.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has put out a statewide search notice for Heckman, now listed on the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s missing persons website.

Linsey Burke-Tjernagel, Jewell, who is married to Heckman’s nephew, Lance, said searchers had been looking for the missing man all weekend.

“We’re asking people to keep their eyes open for that New Holland backhoe,” she said. Tjernagel asked people to check abandoned buildings, ditches and similar areas throughout Hamilton County.

“We haven’t ruled out that he might have left the Jewell area,” she said. That could extend the search area even as much 60 miles, according to Tjernagel.

She said on her Facebook page that air searches had been conducted, but have not found anything.

She said Heckman’s family is concerned for his safety.

“He’s a loving guy with a heart of gold,” she said. “And he has a son and granddaughter who need him at home.”

Hagenson said initial reports that Heckman had been missing since Wednesday were false. Early reports also said Heckman’s cell phone had been turned off, when in fact, Hagenson said his cell phone account was closed prior to his disappearance.

If you have any information about the possible whereabouts of Heckman, contact the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office at (515) 832-9500.