It’s been almost 17 months since Suzanne Giza has heard from her son.
Frank Joseph Giza III, 25, was hitchhiking and couch-surfing across the country to music festivals when he sent his last letter to his mom in early June 2009.
He had made it to Bloomington, and he said he would contact her in a couple of weeks, the letter read. As she sat in her home in Selbyville, Del., she waited for his next phone call or card or letter. But the weeks passed, and she never heard from her son.
Not then, not on her birthday and not now.
“I’m just sick about it,” Suzanne Giza said. “He’s not one not to call me. He’s resourceful. He’s asked to use strangers’ phones before just to call me, let me know he’s OK.”
The younger Giza, or Joey, as he is called by his family, was last seen leaving a friend’s house in Bloomington in June 2009. From what his family and police can gather, he and the friend got into an argument, and Joey Giza left.
Another friend said Joey was last seen walking out of town. He had left to go to the next festival on his list.
But friends waiting in Tennessee never saw him, Suzanne Giza said. Those expecting his arrival at the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia were kept waiting too.
Suzanne Giza said she’s worried her son is lost, that he’s fallen into a life of drugs and alcohol and can’t remember her phone number. She doesn’t like thinking of other worse possibilities.
Though Bloomington Police Capt. Joe Qualters said there is no indication of foul play at this time, a horrible thought does find its way into Suzanne Giza’s mind.
“I do keep thinking, ‘What if he’s dead?’” she said. “I’m so heartsick. I need to see if he’s alive.”
For more than a year, Suzanne Giza and her sister have posted messages on hitchhiking and trucker forums, pleading for anyone with information to contact the Bloomington Police Department.
“If anyone has seen Joey, please tell him to contact his mother,” Joey Giza’s aunt, using the username Amulet, wrote on one forum. “She is worried sick! Her greatest fear is that he ODed or came in contact with the wrong ppl.”
Other friends and relatives took to posting pictures and pleas on MySpace and Facebook. So far the digital search has proven futile, Suzanne Giza said.
BPD has not had much luck either.
Because Joey Giza was already a transient, the case is particularly tough, Qualters said. Joey Giza left his home in Baltimore in spring 2009 with only the clothes on his back.
When he went missing, Joey Giza wasn’t carrying any official forms of identification.
“It can be a challenge to investigate these types of cases,” Qualters said. “People who live a somewhat transient lifestyle don’t leave the same clues as others might, such as cell phone records, credit card receipts or phone calls to family or friends.”
In October, though appreciative of the police’s help so far, Suzanne Giza made the 14-hour trip from Selbyville, Del., to Bloomington to search for her son herself. While in town, she talked to people around Bloomington who may have seen her son and put up missing person fliers.
The fliers show Joey Giza smiling in a tie-dye shirt, with dark, curly, shoulder-length hair and the beginnings of a scruffy beard. It’s the same photograph posted on forums and MySpace profiles online.
Suzanne Giza said a homeless man recognized the picture and said her son was heading to Illinois. It’s a claim Suzanne Giza initially dismissed, until the trail led to a
truck stop about 50 miles outside of Bloomington.
The cashier inside said a man matching her son’s description was recently seen playing guitar with a couple of girls in the parking lot. The manager even talked to the man.
She said he told the manager he was heading along Route 70 to Illinois — to a music festival.
Qualters said police checked the lead but were unsuccessful in finding the man or confirming his identity. As a result, it is impossible to know if this man is really Joey Giza.
Regardless, Suzanne Giza said she can’t help but be excited. Up until that moment, her mind kept telling her that her son was dead.
“But now,” she said, “now, I have hope.”
Anyone with information about Joey Giza’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact BPD Detective Sarah Carnes at 812-339-4477.
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