THIS IS AN OLDER POST BUT NEEDS TO BUT TOLD
Chili, N.Y. – For the Sullivans of Chili, the long wait for word of their missing son continues. Brian has been gone a year.
“It’s on your mind 24 hours,” said Daniel, the young man’s father.
“You just try to keep busy doing something throughout the day. It’s not easy.” said Barbara, Brian’s mother.
Times are hard for the family.
Brian Sullivan disappeared early in the morning of July 8, 2007. According to reports, the a 19-year-old Churchville-Chili High graduate had spent the previous evening watching a movie at a friend’s house, then bought breakfast at the drive-through of a Chili Avenue Burger King. Investigators found a receipt for the food stamped with the time of 5:38 a.m. in Brian’s car. The red 1995 Pontiac Sunfire was found in front of a 100-acre wooded area on nearby Lettington Avenue.
Law enforcement officers swung into action.
“There was a grid search performed where his vehicle was last seen,” said Cpl. John Helfer of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s deputies, U.S. Army Reserve troops, members of the Gates-Chili Fire Department and others combed and re-combed the area while a state Police helicopter flew overhead, searching the woods three times.
The story made all the local news outlets, and family members passed out or hung posters bearing Brian’s smiling picture and asking for help in the search. When the search didn’t turn up useful leads, the Sheriff’s Office turned to the New York Branch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for additional help.
“We assign these cases to our case managers,” said Ed Suk, the branch’s executive director.
The case managers, who are generally highly trained investigators, can help develop leads for law enforcement personnel.
“It can involve database searches, the development of high-quality posters, the targeted distribution of those posters around the country,” Suk said.
It’s essential to keep the case, and the person who’s missing, in the public eye.
“One out of six kids is returned as a result of someone seeing a poster,” said Suk.
Though family members can pass out posters, help push the search, seek solace or take other actions, waiting for word of their loved word, whatever that word may be, is often terrible for them to experience. They can often go through a range of emotions, from “a tremendous sense of grief and loss to a sense of hope that they passionately cling to,” according to Suk. As they approach a year without word on the loved one, a family can find it more and more hard to stay positive.
“There will be some realization that the leads are much fewer and fewer far between,” he said.
As easy as it is to get wrapped up in all of the terrible potential outcomes in a missing persons case, there is still a basis for hope, Suk said.
“You can come up with all kinds of ideas and scenarios,” Daniel said.
Barbara sometimes hopes that Brian just took off for his own reasons.
“He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do; he didn’t know if he wanted to go back to MCC,” she said of Brian, who had taken classes at Monroe Community College.
One of three psychics Barbara consulted while searching for information on her son seemed to support this idea. The psychic told her that Brian was in Buffalo amongst bad companions, but that “he was good, and he was going to leave these people.”
“That was the one good thing; that he was still alive,” she said.
At the same time, she found it hard to accept that Brian would’ve just left behind the car he’d just bought, all his clothing, and about $1,000 of new sound-recording equipment.
“It’s still in the box,” Barbara said.
Helfer said investigators continue to search for clues to Brian’s disappearance.
“At this point, there haven’t been any new leads,” he said. “It’s still an ongoing investigation.”
Family members and friends have helped the Sullivans cope with the months of uncertainly, and four months ago, on Daniel’s birthday, someone else came into their lives. Their 21-year-old daughter, Brittney Murphy, gave birth to a blue-eyed baby boy.
“That is a blessing that we have,” Barbara said. “He’s just happy and thriving, and that makes me happy.”
Daniel called the cherubic boy “my birthday present.”
The Sullivans have contacted the crime show “America’s Most Wanted,” hoping to put Brian’s case before the nation, though they haven’t heard back from the show. Today, the family had planned to gather in the area in which Brian disappeared. They talked about releasing balloons bearing his picture and asking those who find them to help in the search for Brian.
“Please, don’t forget Brian,” Brittney said.
If you have information on the disappearance of Brian Sullivan, please call 911.