12/02/05 He was my Dad--Part II
Todd did not know at that time that his mother had arranged for Alex to go to Nevada to start a new life. She had bought a plane ticket for him that had a return option. Alex was supposed to call when he arrived in NV, but he never did. After a time, his mother received word that the return ticket had been used, so she thought Alex was in the area. She began working with the police and local medical examiners to locate Alex, but to no avail.
In March of 2005, an officer from the local police department asked Todd if he still wanted his father’s case to remain active. He did, and the officer advised him that there was no detective assigned to the case. Todd asked for, and received help from Detective Paul Oiska, who proved to be very valuable in the search, and supportive of Todd.
Todd recalled his mother going through open data at the Wayne County Morgue, such as pauper grave files. Todd contacted a man there, who gave him several referrals, which included the National Center for Missing Adults, the Doe Network, and Project Jason.
Todd Matthews was going to work on an age progression of Alex for Todd. I gave him referrals to several other agencies which assist families of missing adults, and we also had planned to place Alex on our Come Home program.
Todd then began the lengthy task of emailing every police department and medical examiners office that he could find on the Internet. He spent almost every day off working at library emailing and making phone calls, looking for any answers or leads. He contacted the local social security office, and found that Alex was still listed as being alive, but that was all they would tell him.
He also contacted some of the hospitals in Michigan where his father was a patient at one time, asking for any x-rays they may have to help with possible matching to a JOHN DOE. He worked on getting dental and medical records, discovering that his dad was hospitalized in Las Vegas for a short time.
One day, in July, I received a startling phone call from Todd. He had found his dad, but he was no longer alive. What was even more startling was the news that he had been dead for ten long years.
Todd recounts that painful time in his life: “I had spoken with Kelly Jolkowski at Project Jason, and we starting talking briefly about the NCIC computer. After that conversation, I called Detective Oiska, and asked if he could double check to make sure my dad was in the computer, and if I could have a copy of the report.
About two days later, I received a call from Detective Oiska, stating that my father had passed away June of 1995. He did not have any further information, but was requesting all reports about him. He gave me the number to the Salt Lake City Coroners office.I finally had an answer regarding my father, but now I wanted to know what happened.
I was told that he was in a van, driving from Vegas to Salt Lake City, and the van ran out of gas. The other occupants in the van left my father there to get some more gas, and when they came back my father had passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning. He was trying to keep warm in a little city called Salina in UTAH.”
When he asked officials in Utah why his family was not notified of his father’s death, Todd was told: “He was just a homeless man.”
"He was my Dad" will continue on Monday.