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Missing Angier woman's husband: 'I'll hope...'

Posted May 19, 2008
Updated May 20, 2008

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— Tim Rohrbach says when he found out his wife, Sallie, was missing, he feared maybe she was the victim of a random act of violence. He never imagined her job as an insurance investigator for the state could cost her her life.

"Like the two halves of the heart, we just always fit together," Tim Rohrbach said.

The couple had been married for 24 years.

"I thought it would be a lifelong relationship, but I guess it wasn't," Tim Rohrbach said.

Sallie Rohrbach, 44, of Angier, traveled to Charlotte last week and had planned to spend several days auditing the Dilworth Insurance Agency. When family and co-workers didn't hear from her by late last week and she did not show up for a meeting, they called police.

A ground search led detectives to her car, which was discovered Sunday morning in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant less than a mile from the insurance agency. It wasn't long before authorities charged the owner of the insurance agency, Michael Arthur Howell, with first-degree murder.

"I have hope that she is still alive, but I am also realistic. I have to be honest with myself, but I'll hope until the day I know for sure," Tim Rohrbach said. "I don't know why someone felt that they had to kill my wife to cover up a business transaction."

"It's the last thing we expected," said Chrissy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Department. "We just don't expect our people in the field to be put in this kind of danger. It been very hard on everyone."

Howell, 40, of Indian Trail, was being held Monday in the Mecklenburg County Jail. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities said Rohrbach's slaying was connected to her duties as an auditor and that evidence was found in both her car and Howell's vehicle. The investigation is ongoing, and detectives have yet to find Rohrbach's body, said Julie Hill, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Pearson said a complaint against Howell was recently filed with state insurance officials. She declined to elaborate, but noted it was the first since he opened his business more than 20 years ago.

"She was going down there for a very routine sort of examination of the agency, looking at their files. There was nothing whatsoever to give us any indication that she would be in any danger," Pearson said. "She did know that if at any point she felt uncomfortable, she could call in our law enforcement guys, and she has done that in the past.

"But she gave us no calls. Nothing to lead us to believe she was uncomfortable in any way."

As a field examiner, Rohrbach would look at an agency's books and files and interview employees. Depending on the complaint, such a field investigation could take up to a week. If she found evidence of any wrongdoing – including fraud – she would forward the complaint to the Insurance Department's criminal division, Pearson said.

Rohrbach's husband received an e-mail from her Tuesday, but no one had seen her since Wednesday, Pearson said.

Anyone with information about Rohrbach’s disappearance or death is asked to contact the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department at 704-336-2311 or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

23 Comments

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  • oldrebel May 26, 2008

    What a totally sad, sad story. I've heard they were really good people from some who live near them. It's just a tragedy that bad things happen to good people. This is Life.

  • Frank Downtown May 20, 2008

    They really should work in pairs because you never know when someone being fined might fly off the handle and get violent. I hope the states changes there protocal!

  • slick rick da troll whisperer May 20, 2008

    so the guy though he could escape insurance fraud by committing murder? idiot.

  • wolfer4life May 20, 2008

    I know both of these people and I have spoken with Tim in the last two days. He breaks down in tears instantly when he speaks of this and he loves his wife. They are hard working people and two of the nicest people you could ever meet.
    Some of you people need to get a life.
    If you want to do something positive then PRAY for everyone concerned.

  • granny2shoes May 20, 2008

    This guy should be "made" to talk. If he killed her, he wasn't thinking about her rights - so why should we think about his. He needs to tell what happened NOW. He gave up his rights when he committed the crime. I'm so sick of the criminal having all the rights - someone needs to think about the victim and their family - where are their rights?!

  • 19tarheel75 May 20, 2008

    Her husbands in shock. I certainly would be. He doesn't need to have anyone's approval about how he grieves. I'm sure he could care less what anyone thinks about his public statements.

  • Meandmytwo May 20, 2008

    This should be an eye opener for this type of job from now on out. They need protection too. Praying for the husband, family and friends.

  • Armando de Cabana Boy May 20, 2008

    Very sad. I grew up close to Sallie. I went to school with her. You would not find a nicer person. Can't believe it. RIP Sallie.

  • sbunc92 May 20, 2008

    "I cannot believe there wasn't someone, somewhere that knew this man's nature and could alarm the DOI. The reason this lady was there was because he was dirty. I think if there is an audit for potential fraud, then there is potential danger."

    The man in custody has no criminal record and this is the first complaint ever lodged against his company. I'm not sure what could have been done.

  • 2headstrong May 20, 2008

    No need to fly off the handle because someone's observation doesn't match yours..

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