Joe Pichler left a note in his car and has been missing since Tuesday

By Stephen M. Silverman
January 16, 2006 11:15 AM

A manhunt is on in Bremerton, Wash., for 18-year-old former child actor Joe Pichler, of the Beethoven comedies, who was reported missing after leaving a note in his car last Tuesday in which he expressed suicidal thoughts, according to relatives.

About 150 well-wishers and family members have joined police, Kitsap County water search and rescue personnel and tracking dogs in unsuccessful efforts to find Pichler since his empty car was discovered at an intersection above a narrow arm of water called the Port Madison Narrows, reports the Associated Press.

In addition to some poems, Pichler stated in the note he left behind that he wished to be a “stronger brother” and asked that his belongings go to a younger brother, his family said.

Pichler appeared in the third and fourth installments of the Beethoven movies, about the comedic adventures of a St. Bernard. He also appeared in the teen comedy Varsity Blues

The actor returned to Bremerton to live full-time in 2002 at the urging of his mother and graduated last year from Bremerton High but never lost his passion for acting, his family said.

“I just wanted him to have some normalcy in his life,” his mother, Kathy Pichler, told the Kitsap Sun. “He’s a good boy and took it well, but he wasn’t really happy about it.”

“We always kept him really grounded,” she said. “He’s always been a regular kid with a job a teenager wouldn’t normally have.”

Of the rescue efforts, his mother added: “I don’t know how we’re going to thank all these people.”