I appreciate everyone's feedback on my "lost" tailpipe. Like I said, this is a learning experience. I guess I'll check the tailpipe as part of my pre-flight from now on.
I mentioned the issue to both mechanics... The mechanic that completed the pre-buy (3hrs of labor) explained that he didn't think I wanted him to check the exhaust only the cylinder compressions & give it a quick "look over" - just for the record, this is not what I asked him to do - I asked him to check the plane mechanically - pretty general, but you think he might have checked the tailpipe. . He doesn't seem willing to provide any "free" services. The mechanic who completed the last annual in March (he was also the previous owner) mentioned that "these things can happen" & "you never know what can go next" - these statements don't give me a warm & fuzzy feeling.
If neither of the mechanics seem willing to share the costs (which neither are) then I'm not sure if I have any recourse.
Lastly, I contacted my insurance company (Avemco) they said that the exhaust & muffler wouldn't be covered due to mechanical failure, but resulting damage (cowling) would be covered at no deductible. I may just file a claim.
Thanks again for everyone's comments.

Note: forwarded message attached.

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