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.
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.