SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – How can you just disappear without a trace? It's a mystery, but it's been happening with increasing frequency in San Francisco. That has the families of some of the missing wondering about foul play.
A day can't go by without Lynn Ching thinking of her son. Sean Sidi was 19 when he disappeared without a trace almost two years ago. "I kept calling and calling him. I already realized something was wrong, but we were hoping," she said.
Months of searches in Golden Gate Park, where Sean said he was headed, led nowhere. "Our life is on hold, we don't know where he is," Lynn told KPIX 5.
Lynn set up a Facebook page, and soon discovered her family wasn't alone. Four other young men, Crishtian Michael Hughes, Shawn Dickerson Tyler, Cameron Remmer and Jackson Miller had also gone missing in San Francisco in the three years before Sean disappeared, all about the same age as Sean. Together they became known as the California 5, and all are still gone without a trace.
The mystery was about to get even deeper. Five months after Sean vanished from the streets of San Francisco, another young man disappeared, then another, and another.
Paulo's mother suspects foul play. KPIX 5 talked to her via Skype, from her home in Brazil, with the help of an interpreter. She told us her son called in a panic from a building in San Francisco's Mission District the night he disappeared, saying he had lost his wallet and was being followed by three men.
Later he also called 911.
But in Netto's case, as in Derrick and Dan's, the cause of death is officially "unknown."
"I think it's very disturbing," said Lynn. "I mean no one does anything and it keeps happening?"
"I do not see a common link," said San Francisco Police Lt. Ed Santos. He heads up San Francisco's Special Victims Unit, where the city's missing cases end up.
"There may be some cases where one might be similar to another, but when you really look at it, it's not," Santos said.
But parents of the missing wonder if police really "are" looking at each case. "The police have not followed up with me. I don't believe they have ever contacted me," said Lynn.
KPIX 5 asked Lt. Santos about that. "In order to really dig deep you have to do a lot of searching, and a lot of searching can take a lot of personnel hours," he said.
And when we questioned whether resources aren't being dedicated to fully investigate these cases, his response was quick: "That is incorrect. There's a lot of work that goes into these cases," Santos said.
For the families of the missing, it's frustrating. "It's hard," said Lynn. "Humans are prepared for death, but not for someone going missing."
Sean Sidi's case is still open, as are the cases of the 4 other young men we mentioned. San Francisco police are asking anyone with information to call their hotline at 415-553-9225.
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