BROOKLYN (PIX11) — When Kim Crown got off the elevated subway train at Lorimer Street on July 5, she didn’t expect to see a distant cousin she barely knew sitting on a bench and wearing tattered jeans.
“I work in a predominantly Hasidic Jewish community,” Crown said. “You don’t see a lot of Asians.” She suspected that he was her missing cousin—Jossiah Nguyen, 25, from Savannah, Georgia—who had told his parents he was stuck in New York. Crown had seen on social media that Nguyen went missing from home just before Mother’s Day, May 8.
“I turned around and walked back to him and said his name,” she recalled. “And he responded.”
His parents, Yen and Bien Nguyen, said in a Zoom interview that their son has struggled emotionally since he finished high school. Jossiah once joyfully performed modern dance, especially break dancing, and enjoyed recording rap music. “It breaks your heart to see your son like that,” Yen Nguyen, Jossiah’s father, said. “I’m glad he’s still alive, but he doesn’t look well.”
Jossiah’s mother said her son tried to contact both parents through Facebook Messenger on May 13—five days after he left Georgia—telling them he’d lost his wallet and phone.
“He was asking for help financially for a bus ticket to get back to Savannah,” said Jossiah’s mom, tormented about the follow-up call on Facebook.”Unfortunately, I missed the call,” she said, her voice breaking. “We haven’t heard from him since.”
The parents came to New York City on Saturday, June 25, when they heard about Missing Persons Day. The event was organized by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and the NYPD. While they were speaking to detectives, they learned their son had received a minor summons in Brooklyn on the same day near a liquor store on Nostrand Avenue and St. John’s Place.
“We were able to actually see him on video when he was summoned,” the mother said. “We actually went there. Nobody recognized him or gave us any leads.”
The parents learned that their son’s phone had “pinged” at one point at Madison Plaza in lower Manhattan. They didn’t hear about another sighting of Jossiah until July 5, when his father’s cousin got off the train and doubled back to the bench on a hunch. “He looked really skinny, dirty, you could tell he was living on the streets,” Crown recalled. “He just had a winter coat next to him.”
Crown said she offered to help Jossiah, but he refused assistance. “He just politely said, ‘I’m fine, I’m good, no thank you,'” she remembered. She said he was rolling a joint when she met him on the bench.
Jossiah’s parents are desperate to find him before he gets hurt. They have started a Facebook page called “JossiahNguyenMissingPerson.” The young man’s mother is struggling to understand why he left home, knowing his parents would worry. “I try to remember that I’m not in his shoes,” she said, her voice full of emotion. “I haven’t had the same struggle with depression and those other things.”
“The message is: his parents love him,” Yen Nguyen said. “We’ve always wanted the best for him.”
His mother is pleading with New Yorkers to help find her son. “We just miss him, we love him, and we want him to be okay,” Bien Nguyen said.
The NYPD Missing Persons Squad normally advises New Yorkers to call 911 if they spot a missing, endangered person–or Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.