Suffolk County police have searched local waterways, put their helicopters in the sky and detectives have painstakingly gone over the last known steps of a Centereach man who hasn't been seen or heard from since leaving a Lindenhurst restaurant 18 days ago.
Close friends of Thomas Kelsey, a 45-year-old livery cabdriver who hasn't shown up for work in nearly three weeks, are puzzled at how he seemingly disappeared without a trace. They have gone door-to-door in Lindenhurst handing out missing persons flyers.
Suffolk police detectives, while conceding adults can choose to disappear without telling anyone, say they are actively searching for Kelsey, saying his case is unusual because there were no signs he had planned to run away from his established life and police have not been able to make contact with him to ensure that he is alive and well.
"Usually with missing persons investigations, we can determine the adult is actively living their life somewhere,” said Suffolk Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante. “In this case, we haven’t been able to show him or his vehicle. This case is active. We are actively trying to locate him.”
Kelsey, as captured on surveillance video, left the Katch restaurant alone at Venetian Shores Park on July 7 around 10 p.m. after watching a live band with friends, police said. He was wearing brown shoes, plaid shorts and a T-shirt, police said. Hours later, his cellphone pinged a cell tower near Sunrise Highway and Robert Moses Causeway about 3 a.m.
Since then, his phone hasn't hit on any cellphone towers and his vehicle — a red 2015 GMC Yukon with New York license plates — hasn't hit on any license plate readers or road tolls.
Dina Love, a friend of 12 years, hung out with Kelsey and other friends at Katch the night he went missing. She said he was in good spirits, buying drinks and enjoying the band. He talked about driving a limo for work the next day. While Love was busy with another friend, she said her boyfriend and children said they saw Kelsey leaving and waved goodbye to him in the parking lot.
Love said she texted Kelsey about an hour later, but he didn't answer. Calls from her and other friends to his cellphone went straight to voicemail.
"There’s so many possibilities of what happened,” said Love, 38, who lives in Lindenhurst and works as a professional face painter. “This keeps me up all night long. I’ve lost 10 pounds. It’s heart wrenching. It’s consumed me. I’m so devoted to try to find out what happened to my friend.”
Kelsey's landlord, a close friend, reported him missing in the early morning hours of July 9 after Kelsey, who left his beloved dog Sasha alone in his apartment, didn’t show up for work.
Last Friday, Love and other friends knocked on doors near the park in Lindenhurst, asking residents to check their home surveillance video for any sign of Kelsey or his truck. She said the Staples store in Massapequa donated 2,000 missing persons flyers for Kelsey.
"Tom is a very loyal and devoted friend," said Love. "Devoted to his dog, devoted to his job. He's a creature of habit. This makes no sense."
Kelsey's family could not be reached for comment. Gigante said detectives had been in contact with Kelsey's mother and a sibling, who were cooperating with the investigation.
"We know he kind of dropped off the grid that night," said Gigante. "There’s no indication that he would be going anywhere … So it's unusual. We have no indication that he has been met with foul play. But we also have no indication of why he has gone missing."