The Disappearance


O Brother, Where Art Thou?

When my brother didn’t return on time from his trip to Florida my mother started to worry. Given the fact that Jimmy was a free spirit though, Mom gave it a few more days before real concern started to creep in. We had received his postcard from Florida and on it he had written that he’d be home soon. There was no indication that he was taking a side trip or that he was going to stretch it out beyond what he originally planned.

When Mom first sensed that Jimmy might be in some sort of trouble she reached out first to his friends in San Francisco for help. Initially they stayed tight-lipped but she realized that they were withholding something, and that really frightened her.

After about a month with no word from Jimmy and not enough help from his friends and law enforcement my father hired a private investigator from an agency based in San Francisco. The investigator started snooping around, hounding my brother’s friends until they finally revealed the true purpose of the trip: they had pooled their money and James went to Florida to purchase a large amount of marijuana. His plan was to bring it back to San Francisco to sell. We discovered that Jimmy had established a few contacts in Citrus County on the Gulf Coast of Florida through someone he knew here and then placed several phone calls in the months preceding the ill-fated trip. But why travel a couple thousand miles to purchase marijuana in Florida when it was so abundant and easily procured here in California? The simple answer is that most of what was being sold in the SF Bay Area at that time was Mexican grown, but there were literally tons of high quality Colombian marijuana coming into Florida with regularity and it could be purchased at a price that California couldn’t touch.

Time dragged on. Mom continued making calls to law enforcement in California and Florida but because Jimmy was an adult and because he went missing while allegedly engaged in criminal activity we were pretty much left on our own. It certainly felt to us like no one in a position to help cared enough about Jimmy or my family to do so. My parents also called and spoke with my brother’s contacts in Citrus County (FL) and Miami and they acknowledged that they had been in communication with him prior to his arrival but that’s about all they would say.

When I think back to this time I can still feel my mother’s anguish and fear. She fretted and paced, she snapped at us kids, she barely slept. The notes she took as she made her phone calls speak to her desperation: names and numbers scrawled over numerous pages, some scratched out so vigorously that the paper was nearly torn in spots. Life at home in this time period was stressful and frightening, the worst memory I have.

So now the truth (or part of it) was out and it was clear to my parents that if Jimmy was a month overdue from a drug deal with virtual strangers on the other side of the country, there was a good chance that he had met with some sort of foul play.

I was to discover many years later that Jimmy’s friends didn’t tell the investigator or my family the whole story, and there was much more to tell.


Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact
FDLE Special Agent Mike Kennedy at (850) 410-7578.