Police search for missing FIU law student
Luisa Yanez, The Miami Herald
8:42 a.m. EST, November 16, 2009
The last time anyone saw Florida International University law student Tom Daniels was 12 days ago, when he stormed out of a pizza joint, agitated.
``His friend said he acted as if he was being threatened by someone,'' Denise Daniels said of her 28-year-old son, who has not been seen since Nov. 2.
``They're coming to get me,'' he told his friend before leaving CiCi's Pizza restaurant near the Modesto Maidique campus in west Miami-Dade, according to a university incident report.
The 6-foot-5 Daniels left his car parked at the campus fraternity house where he lives and works part time. He hasn't called his fraternity brothers or his girlfriend.
But Daniels was not reported missing to FIU police by his friends until Wednesday afternoon, his mother and the university confirmed Friday.
``I just don't understand why his friends waited nine days,'' said an emotional Denise Daniels, who lives in Southern California.
She says as the days pass, she fears something terrible has happened to her son, who is in his final year of law school.
``They have checked with his credit card company and he has not used the cards,'' his mother said in a telephone interview Friday. ``They've checked hospitals and the morgue - and nothing.''
Her son, an avid Facebook user, has also not been on the site since he disappeared.
``He has never done anything like this before,'' she said. ``He has his own life, but he always checks in with one of us.''
Daniels even hopes her son has had some sort of mental breakdown.
``I would prefer that. The last time I spoke to him, he told me he was seeing a psychiatrist,'' she said. ``I hope it's a mental thing and not that bad people were after him.''
Daniels said she learned her son was missing from her sister in Gainesville, who received a knock on her door Thursday from police checking to see if her nephew, whom she helped raise, was at her home.
Miami-Dade police said Friday FIU's campus police is handling the Daniels' case.
``We received an unusual occurrence report on Wednesday and ever since then, our police department has been investigating,'' FIU Senior Vice President for External Relations Sandy Gonzalez-Levy said.
Fliers with his photo have been sent to all police departments, and the school newspaper will run a story on him next week.
``We continue to monitor the situation,'' she said. In California, Denise Daniels is waiting by her phone for good news.
``I just pray nothing bad has happened to him,'' she said.
Daniels weighs 230 pounds and has brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray tank top and beige cargo pants.
Anyone with information about Daniels should call FIU Police Sgt. R. Diaz at 305-348-2626 or 305-348-2633.