Brian Gewirtz was a young man that was loved by family and friends. The 20-year-old autistic man was missing for 44 days before his body was discovered a mere two miles from his family’s home.
In mid-February, Brian vanished without a trace. Police believe that he had gone outside for a walk, wandered into Marine Park Golf Course, and somehow became disoriented. Given his mental condition, this seems very likely. They feel that the very low temperatures, which were in the single digits when he went missing, caused hypothermia and his subsequent death.
Police also say that there were no signs of trauma, and it does not appear that there was any type of foul play involved. However, the body did not receive an autopsy, as it was against the family’s faith.
The real tragedy of this case is that even though Brian was 20-years-old, he had the mind of a much younger person. Many law enforcement agencies tend to treat these missing person cases as they would that of an adult with full mental functionality. This generally means that an adult needs to be missing for a certain amount of time before police will launch an investigation. Lost time in any missing person case is a problem.
During a press conference after the discovery of the body, Brian’s godmother and members of the NYC React Search & Rescue said that there needs to be a change in the way that law enforcement handles missing person cases, and this is especially true when it comes to those who are disabled. She said, “He was over 18 yes, but he had the mind of a very much younger person because of his disability, and lots of people didn’t understand that and there really needs to be a law just like an amber alert.”
It takes time to enact these changes, but hopefully, something will happen sooner rather than later.
It might be too late for Brian, but it isn’t too late for others out there. In the meantime, people need to know what they should do in case one of their own loved ones goes missing.
How to Handle Missing Persons Cases for Special Needs People
In some cases, when explained to law enforcement, they may start their search early. Those who are disabled, physically or mentally, need this help, as they are often unable to help themselves. After informing law enforcement, launching a search comprised of friends, family, and members of the community is essential. Putting up flyers, talking with people in the area, and searching in the area where the person was last seen, is important. Talk with as many people as possible – young and old alike. Try to get help from any local companies in the area too. They may put flyers in their windows and may even offer to help in the search. The more people you have helping the better. However, you need to make sure that you have an organized plan for the search. It could be beneficial to work with a private investigator that can help you.
Private investigators often have experience in many different types of missing person cases, whether they are tracking down deadbeat dads or looking for people missing in Mexico, and their knowledge can be very beneficial. If you do choose to work with a PI, make sure that one of their specialties is finding missing people.