Seven-year-old Patrick K. Alford left his Spring Creek Towers’ apartment in Brooklyn at about 9 pm on Jan. 22, 2010 to throw out the trash, but never returned home.
Seeming to vanish from the face of the earth, the near 12-year-old mystery has continued to endure in the hearts and minds of those who knew the young boy and those who continue to search for him.
Formerly known as Starrett City, Spring Creek Towers is an East New York complex made up of 46 apartment buildings, and several amenities such as its own sports club and a newspaper. Almost serving as its miniature city on the outskirts of the Big Apple, this community was left in shock when Alford disappeared.
For years, the NYPD searched high and low for the missing child. Following lead after lead that led to nothing but dead ends, investigators even scoured the nearby Shirley Chisholm State Park (once known as Penn and Fountain Parks) that was, at the time, a notorious dumping ground — but no traces of the boy ever materialized.
Despite the passage of time and the decade since Alford’s initial disappearance, detectives tell amNewYork Metro that they are refusing to give up. Becoming a rather personal case for the department, Detective Leiddy Zuber says the NYPD is not going to stop until the mystery is solved.
“All missing persons cases are important, but this case particularly touched everybody because he was seven years old,” Zuber said. “It was cold when he disappeared, and he was not properly attired. Everybody who has a child can relate. It is a scary thing.”
Posting flyers inside 130 Vandalia Ave. — Alford’s place of disappearance — and around Spring Creek Towers at high pedestrian locations such as bus stops, the detective says she is turning to the community in hopes of bringing closure to the family.
“My message to the public is now that we have more technology, you have more social media. We want you to share this story, because we want to find Patrick,” Zuber said. “There’s always time for redemption. And please call us anything small, every little detail that you can give us can possibly help us find Patrick.”
As passersby eyed the image of the boy and the reward of up to $13,000 for information, residents were instantly taken back to that day. Inside the building where he vanished, Brooklyn Paper’s sister publication amNewYork Metro spoke with Natalie Thomas who still lives at 130 Vandalia.
Thomas described the disappearance as strange, in more ways than one.
“It didn’t seem like a random thing, it seemed like they wanted that boy. It wasn’t like we have to watch our kids, it wasn’t that feeling at all. It was totally like something’s going on with this particular family and this child,” Thomas said, adding, “It’s a sad story but we never got a sense that the child was dead.”
Another resident who didn’t want to be identified mentioned rumors that swirled on the street indicating the boy was whisked out of the country, but as the mystery grows, so does local intrigue.
Still, the NYPD states that no matter how big or how small any information could lead them to Alford’s whereabouts. The boy would have turned 19 on Nov. 28, and investigators hope they will be able to solve the mystery at long last.
Anyone with information regarding this missing child can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.
This story first appeared on amNewYork.