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Missing Pitt student found homeless in Montana

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. I'm surprised this hasn't made the national news. Kind of an intersting story:

    By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    A University of Pittsburgh student missing since April was reunited with family members over the weekend after a ranger discovered him Thursday living among homeless squatters in Glacier National Park in Montana.
    A private detective from Pittsburgh tracked him down Saturday riding in a motor vehicle several miles outside the park.
    "He was fine when I found him," said private investigator Chris Finley.
    Pranesh Patel, 23, of Sicklerville, N.J., was last seen by his roommate April 24, during finals week. He failed to show up for an engineering exam April 27, and his younger brother filed a missing persons report May 2.
    But police got no solid leads until a park ranger reported seeing him in a group of homeless people at the Montana park. The ranger ran his name through the National Crime Information Center database and found a match for a missing person from Pittsburgh.
    The ranger called Pittsburgh police and informed the young man's family that Mr. Patel looked to be in good health. But the park ranger did not hold him in custody.
    John Vroom, a Pitt student who shared an apartment with Mr. Patel and a third roommate on Chesterfield Avenue in Oakland, was reportedly the last person to see him April 24, though Mr. Patel's family heard from him that day.
    Mr. Vroom reported that his missing roommate was failing most of his classes and was upset because a final project he was building had been stolen. He said the fifth-year electrical engineering student was afraid to tell his family that he might not graduate.
    His brother, Tarak Patel, a West Virginia University student, reported him missing to Pitt police on May 2. The university turned over the case to city police, who issued a news release about his disappearance. About a week later, his family hired private investigator Finley, who is based in the North Hills, to expedite the search.
    News reports indicated the young man's backpack, wallet and keys were gone, but Lt. Daniel Herrmann said he left behind his laptop, cell phone and most of his belongings. Police did not suspect foul play.
    Court records indicate that city police arrested Mr. Patel in December for three summary traffic violations and a drunken driving charge.
    He was released without bond. Several weeks before his disappearance, he appeared in court and agreed to enter a one-year alternative sentencing program for first-time offenders.
    He faced more than $1,000 in costs and fines. Records show he also had a suspended driver's license.
    Lt. Herrmann said city police got a call from a Glacier National Park ranger Thursday informing them that Mr. Patel was found alive and indicating that he appeared to be living in a homeless encampment inside the scenic 1,583-square-mile park.
    The park rangers did not detain him because he had not broken any laws.
    He was no longer a missing person for police purposes, and as an adult, he was free to do as he pleased, they explained.
    Mr. Finley said yesterday he flew to Montana Friday and located the missing man Saturday riding in a car several miles outside the park.
    He notified Tarak Patel, who flew to Montana with his mother Saturday.
    The private detective said the man's family wants to be left alone and asked him not to comment about the circumstances of the case.
    "We found him healthy and well. I believe he's happy to be with his family," he said.
    University spokesman John Fedele said yesterday he had learned Mr. Patel was located Friday and that he remains on record as a Pitt student.
    Lt. Herrmann said he was not surprised Mr. Patel was found alive and in good health after disappearing for so many weeks.
    "It's not out of the ordinary. The normal case load for us is runaway teenagers with no mental issues, rather than elderly people with Alzheimer's or dementia," he said.
    The vast majority of the hundreds of people reported missing are found or return on their own, he said.
  2. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    This always blows my mind.... How could a park ranger, who has never seen this kid before, see him a group and make a positive ID.

    Happens over and over again, it seems.
  3. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    National Park Service rangers are some of the most dedicated and intelligent law officers working. They're trained in everything from disarming suspects to first aid to the scientific names of wildflowers.

    As for why this story isn't getting more play ... the missing student wasn't an attractive white woman.
  4. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    Nor was the student pregnant. Nor was there sign of a struggle or foul play. Without that, it's boring.
  5. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    It's simple: No Nancy Grace, no outrage!
  6. Oz

    Oz Well-Known Member

    That, and the student wasn't an attractive white woman.
  7. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    Essentially, he's an adult runaway, and that's no crime. Without a suspected crime, this isn't a story at all. He ran off because he was failing class and was scared to tell his parents. There's no news there.

    I read a story a few years ago about people "disappearing" into Alaska to get away from something their current lives. Perhaps the same could be said about Glacier National Park. There's a lot of room to voluntarily get lost.
  8. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    "23, too old, won't make the trip over to Glacier National Park.." [/sportschick]
  9. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    Need I remind you a bride ranaway because she didn't want to get married. And that was a story.
  10. Idaho

    Idaho Active Member

    Yes, but she faked a kidnapping and got law inforcement involved.

    This dude just wanted to disappear.
  11. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    If I remember correctly, the kidnapping story didn't come into play until she'd been gone three days and there was coverage of her disappearance before that.
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