An all-day search Friday at Annadel State Park failed to find a missing Sonoma State University freshman who was last seen 15 days earlier and was believed to be at risk of suicide.
James Abriel, 19, was despondent over a breakup when he was last seen April 21 by a friend in the Walnut Creek area, where his family lives. He left suicide notes there and at his SSU residence and may have taken a 40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun from his home, authorities said.
Neighbors on Parktrail Drive in Santa Rosa near the edge of Annadel reported to authorities Thursday that a white 1999 Toyota Camry later determined to be Abriel's had been parked in the area for a week to 10 days.
More than five dozen search and rescue personnel mobilized overnight from around Northern California and took up the search beginning at 6 a.m. Friday. They ended the search about 6 p.m. and plan to return at about 6 a.m. today.
"We're still hoping to reach some positive end to this," said Walnut Creek Police Detective Sgt. Tom Cashion, whose department is leading the investigation.
Part of the parking lot at the south end of Spring Lake was cordoned off as a command post for the operation. A mobile Red Cross vehicle nearby served as a canteen for those working.
Abriel's parents and two or three other family members sat with Sonoma County Law Enforcement chaplains in the cool shade of some oaks, keeping private vigil as they waited for some word of him. They declined to be interviewed.
Abriel was last seen in Walnut Creek, but his debit card was used at a Rohnert Park 7-Eleven store on April 22, and a signal from his cell phone April 25 to check messages was traced to Santa Rosa, police said.
Daily checks on his accounts and efforts to detect use of his cell phone have shown no other activity, Cashion said.
Though Abriel was last seen on campus April 14, suicide notes were found at the residence hall where he had a room to himself and in Walnut Creek on April 25, authorities said. They could have been left much earlier, Cashion said.
A missing person bulletin was issued April 28.
A resident who had noticed the Camry parked on Parktrail Drive near Fern Glen Drive recognized it as matching the description of Abriel's car, confirmed it Thursday afternoon and reported it to police, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Steve Fraga said.
The tracking experts included several search dog handlers with the California Rescue Dog Association.
They included Derek Koonce of Roseville who drove out early Friday with Belle, his black Lab/golden retriever cross, who took Abriel's scent from some personal items found in his car and set forth up the Veterans' Memorial Trail.
Koonce worried the passage of time, recent dry heat and bright sun may have degraded any scent markers Abriel left in the park, but he was headed to SSU and his dorm room Friday afternoon in hopes of giving his dog a fresh scent to track.
The vastness of the park, which encompasses 5,000 acres on its own and borders Spring Lake Park, a sizable regional park, also proved daunting.
Search coordinators mapped out grid areas for assigned teams to scour but covered only a small portion of the overall park, beginning on the northwest edge nearest Abriel's car and moving eastward from there.