Vanished: Reny Jose

On March 4, 2014, Rice University senior Reny Jose was reported missing in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Now 21-years-old, the young man was staying with about 20 friends at a rented beach house--part of a spring break trip.

Originally from New York, he has 4.0 GPA and was expected to graduate this May with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Few details about Mr. Jose's disappearance have been released, but here are the key points:
  • He was last seen the evening of March 3 on Front Beach Road and was reported missing at 11:30 am the next day by friends.

  • Officials found his wallet, cell phone and clothes in a trash can near the house.

  • Reportedly, one friend told police that Mr. Jose may have taken LSD and spoke of harming himself. The family disputes this accusation, and police stated they have found no evidence to support a theory that the young man took anything and then drowned in the ocean.

  • It was reported early in the investigation that police had ruled out foul play, but that assertion has not been reiterated in the latest reports. 

  • Comprehensive searches of the area yielded nothing (after his clothes were found).

  • The family told reporters that most of the other young people staying in the beach house left the area within 24 hours of the young man's disappearance--despite having paid for the accommodations for the entire week.
My suggestions for the family, if it were my loved one missing:

1) Hire a Private Investigator
Since the incident occurred in Florida, the witnesses returned to Texas, and the family lives in another state, it makes sense to have someone experienced and advocating for you in Florida.

If reported correctly, it is odd that a group of friends/acquaintances would leave the area without assisting in the search for Mr. Jose.

They had already paid for the house and someone was in need--why not stay and help?

Even if Mr. Jose was just an acquaintance, I can't imagine myself saying "Wow, bummer man. Good luck finding him. I still have 3 days of my spring break to enjoy."

Having someone who is not a police detective attempt to speak to the housemates may put people more at ease and glean new information.

2) Set a Regular Meeting Time with Investigators
Have investigators speak with you on a regular basis about the case. It may be by phone weekly, every 10 days, or whatever. It will be good for everyone to touch base, even if there is nothing really new to share.

3) Create a Separate Internet Presence on the Case
It is wonderful that there is a Facebook page for information on the case, but FB links names and identities to comments. Since the investigation has stalled, there is a need to offer people anonymity in developing new leads. Time is of the essence as with each passing day it will be more difficult for individuals to recall specifics about what they heard and/or saw.

Creating a website or other vehicle clearly separate from the investigating agency that organizes the case information, could encourage people to type an email offering a tip. With the site, contact information for police and/or for anonymous tips can be provided.

There is nothing wrong with giving individuals a place other than the police department to provide information about the case--some people are not comfortable talking with authorities ever.  Any useful details can then be forwarded to investigators.


The family is frustrated with the pace of the investigation. As such, they have been coordinating a petition to request Federal law enforcement assistance for their missing loved one.

My prayers are with Reny Jose and his family during this difficult time.

To read other Missing Person Monday posts, you can click here.


Mary Kirkland said...

So sad that so many people go missing and just vanish like this.

Bijoux said...

I actually don't think it's odd that the group left. If I were staying there, I'd be freaked out by the whole thing and worried for my own safety. Plus, who wants to party when your friend is missing?

Diane Estrella said...

Hard to believe no one knows anything. Hoping they get a lead and the info they need to find out what happened.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

What a shame.

Pat Hatt said...

The conspiracy side of me says some in the group did something to him, as not even looking is kind of tough to swallow.

messymimi said...

Another reason to be very careful what group you hang with and whom you trust.

My heart goes out to the family.

Jessica Lawson said...

Are there consulting services for families that this happens to? If so, you should start one. Solid advice and I was wondering the same thing about this:

They had already paid for the house and someone was in need--why not stay and help?

Even if Mr. Jose was just an acquaintance, I can't imagine myself saying "Wow, bummer man. Good luck finding him. I still have 3 days of my spring break to enjoy."

Carma Sez said...

this kind of thing has been in the news a lot lately. as the parent of a rising college freshman, it scares the beejezus out of me! Hope you are doing well. I've been an awful blogger lately :/

Brian Miller said...

i would wonder if her did not get taken by the ocean...perhaps a late swim lost to the currents...and his clothes thrown away when found on the beach...

Stephanie Faris said...

So glad you have advice for this. I definitely think when this happens to someone they really need someone to help them. As Jessica Lawson suggested, you may be able to start such a service. It has to be something they seek you out to help with, since there are so many people trying to get to them after the news breaks on something like this.

Lady Lilith said...

That is so sad. I hope they find him. It is really sad when you want answers and no matter how hard you try, you cannot find any.

Brian said...

That really is so sad and how scary that must be for his family.

Bob G. said...

That sure is damn odd...but you've provided some of the BEST steps for the family to proceed.

Strange that NO other member in that rented house wanted to remain behind (as you stated)...people are not into helping others as they used to be (at least in this instance).

One can only hope and pray that he is found and alive, but the longer the time passes, the lesser that chance.

Good post and comments.
Stay safe.

debi o'neille said...

seems fishy to me that the other kids left when the hotel was paid up for a few days. If anything, wouldn't they stay and help search? Suspicious.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I thought that was strange, too, that those "friends" left when they still had rental time remaining. I could see that happening if their friend's body turned up and they had to leave to grief. But this sounds strange.

Hopefully he's found soon!

Remembering Grace said...

This makes me sad.
My daughter is 21...
For Step 1 Hiring a PI, they may not be able to afford it, I certainly couldn't. I would have to find a way - raise the funds, somehow. Take a loan, or something.
This is so awful to think about it. I let my daughter go down to PCB before alone, as well.
My prayers are with this family.

Bossy Betty said...

So scary. Great suggestions on your part!

Momma Fargo said...

This one stinks to me. It is also sad it seems stagnant and not getting a lot of press attention. Do you think that is because of his age? The group leaving is not cool. And Rice with a 4.0? The kid was beyond intelligent. There is more to the story. Suicide is the last thing a family suspects if their kiddo is not showing any signs and it may not be a factor in this one. All seems too mysterious and empty of any leads. Don't like those kind. Those things would make me dig more as a cop. I hope law enforcement picks up the ball they seemed to have dropped.

Momma Fargo said...

Ugh. The rest of my long winded comment...And you sir, are very smart as we all know and suggested some great things for the family. I hope the family reads your ideas somehow or someway. Bravo, Slam!

Anonymous said...

Have you or anyone else shared this advice directly on the Find Reny Facebook page? Or maybe in a private message to his sister Reashma? I'm sure they would appreciate any help and hope that people are still looking for, thinking about, and praying for Reny.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, I just came back from a cruise in Greece.

Slamdunk said...

@Anonymous on 7/14/14: I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. To answer your question--no, I have not tried to contact Reny Jose's family. I try to respect the privacy of families of those who are missing and/or victims. As such, I do not want to intrude into their world with my suggestions.

Since I cover lots of crime/missing persons cases, what often happens is that I am contacted by a family member or friend by email who is searching for info on the Internet and saw my blog. In those instances, I have always offered help and/or answered questions.

My email address, as posted on the blog, is for additional.


Reashma Jose said...

I have been directed here by many people. I just want to thank you for your sound advice. We do have a private investigator working on the case. Your suggestion for a separate internet presence is a good one and we hope to implement that soon!

Slamdunk said...

@ Reashma: I appreciate you stopping by and taking time to comment. If I can help publicize your petition, your current efforts, or any other information about Reny's case, please let me know (my email and Twitter ID are listed).

I continue to pray for Reny and your family.