http://www.idahostatesman.com/2009/05/04/756494/where-is-peter-obrien-he-just.htmlWhere is Peter O'Brien? He just vanished.
BY KATHLEEN KRELLER
Peter O’Brien’s family and Boise police are asking for anyone with information that could help locate him to call Crime Stoppers at 343-2677.
HAVE YOU SEEN PETER O'BRIEN?
O'Brien is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds and has short black hair. He speaks with a New Zealand accent. O'Brien regularly hiked through the Boise Foothills near Camel's Back Park. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 208-343-2677.
Peter O'Brien isn't in any of his usual haunts. He hasn't been clicking away on a laptop computer in Downtown coffee shops, walking in the Foothills or playing with his sons near his North End apartment.
The 44-year-old was last seen by his ex-wife in Boise on April 2. Suzanne Oppenheimer reported him missing after he failed to pick up his boys on April 4.
What happened to the movie sound designer is a mystery.
Is he a victim of foul play?
Is he running away from someone or something?
Did a traumatic event force him to leave?
It's been more than a month, and friends, family and police aren't sure.
'THE PIECES DON'T FIT'
O'Brien's wallet, keys and cell phone were left at his apartment near Camel's Back Park. He'd paid his rent for April. He'd spent time with his sons and talked to family members overseas. He accepted a job.
Then he disappeared.
Michael O'Brien told the Idaho Statesman last week that not knowing what has happened to his brother is agonizing.
"It's a mystery," he said. "There are all sorts of theories, some of which would give hopes to the family, and some are worst-case scenarios, but the pieces don't fit."
So far, the case is inconclusive, Boise police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said.
There is evidence that O'Brien might have walked away from his life.
"The detectives do have some direction they are going with. It wasn't leading toward foul play or suicide," Hightower said. "He is an adult, and if he is not doing something otherwise criminal, he has a right to be where he wants to be and do what he wants to do."
NEW TO BOISE
O'Brien took a winding path to Boise. He is originally from New Zealand and lived in New York as a child.
He graduated from the Australian Film Television and Radio School and played saxophone in a professional jazz band. He developed a reputation as a good cook, especially of fish curry.
He and Suzanne were married in Queensland, Australia, nearly 10 years ago, according to court records. Two children followed. The couple separated while living in Vermont, and Suzanne came to Boise. Peter lived in Los Angeles and worked in the film and video game industry. Their divorce was finalized in mid-March.
He came to Boise about seven weeks before he disappeared to be closer to his sons, Michael O'Brien said.
"He absolutely adored them," Michael O'Brien said. "His sole reason for moving to Boise was so he could spend more time with his boys."
A week before Peter disappeared, he had his usual weekly chat with his brother, who said nothing seemed amiss. Peter had just accepted a new work assignment from sound designer Martin Lopez, a longtime friend in Los Angeles.
Still, O'Brien was under a lot of stress from the divorce and seemed to have some kind of money trouble, Lopez said. Court documents show O'Brien made about $30,000 in the year before the divorce.
"If he disappeared of his own will, which is what I tend to believe, I think stresses became unbearable - financial stresses and emotional stresses with Suzanne and just being a dad and managing two rambunctious boys," Lopez said.
Lopez was told O'Brien took a small amount of money from bank accounts before he disappeared, and his passports are gone.
"For some reason, that all escalated at the end of March. Something pushed it over the top. It's not clear to me what it is," Lopez said.
Another lifelong friend, Carol Cumming of Melbourne, Australia, said she can't imagine a scenario in which Peter would walk away from his family.
"It's just a genuine mystery because none of the pieces fit," said Cumming, who regularly spoke to O'Brien.
"Nobody tap-dances their way through a divorce. He had maybe a rough year, but he certainly was through the hardest yards of that," Cumming said.
She said being a father was important to him.
"He lost a father when he was quite young. He always said it was really important for him to be part of the boys' lives because he missed his own dad," Cumming said.
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
In early April, O'Brien's family converged in Idaho from Australia and Italy to plead for help in finding him. Friends have created a Web site and sent fliers to cities, hospitals and hostels around the country.
"We continue to have serious concerns about Peter's health and safety, and for Peter's sake and for the sake of his children and family we are hopeful he will be located soon and that he will return to be a part of his boys' future," Jonathan Oppenheimer, Suzanne's brother and family spokesman, said.
Suzanne Oppenheimer, Peter's ex-wife, declined an interview with the Statesman.
But Michael O'Brien said things were looking up for his brother, and he knew if O'Brien needed financial help he would have received it. So his disappearance is "uncharacteristic."
"We have found no indication of travel," Michael O'Brien said. "We have found no evidence to suggest that Peter went anywhere else. There is nothing. ... You can't reach any conclusion (based on whether) he had his passport or whether or not he had any money. It's not possible. People are just speculating."
Michael O'Brien is still asking the people of Boise to help find his brother.
"It's something you read about that happens to someone else, but not to you. ... It's only when something happens like this - when it happens to you - then you notice how often things can go badly in families," Michael O'Brien said. "We want some information to help us find Peter and find out where he is and what has happened."