Former child movie actor Joe Pichler missing, suicidal note found; was in `Beethoven' comedies

Monday, January 16th 2006, 8:31 am
By: News On 6

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) _ Former child actor Joe Pichler, who appeared in two of the ``Beethoven'' comedies, was missing after leaving a note in his car expressing suicidal thoughts, relatives said.

Well-wishers and relatives joined police, Kitsap County water search and rescue personnel and tracking dogs in unsuccessful efforts to find Pichler, now 18, since his empty car was found last Tuesday at an intersection above a narrow arm of water called the Port Madison Narrows.

Inside the car was a note in which he wrote about wishing to be a ``stronger brother'' and asking that his belongings go to a younger brother, his family said. Also included were a few poems.

Pichler, a native of Bremerton, was in a commercial for a Seattle department store at age 6. He moved to Los Angeles and appeared in ``The Fan'' in 1996, ``Varsity Blues'' in 1999 and the third and fourth installments of the ``Beethoven'' series, featuring the humorous adventures of a St. Bernard, in 2000 and 2001.

In 2002, he had a leading role in the film ``Children on Their Birthdays,'' a coming of age tale based on a short story by Truman Capote. His TV appearances include a part in ``Touched by an Angel.''

He returned to Bremerton to live full-time in 2002 at the urging of his mother and was 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.''

More than 150 people joined in the search Wednesday, and dozens more helped comb the area on Saturday.

``I don't know how we're going to thank all these people,'' his mother said.