DETROIT—In a heartwarming display of community feeling, members of the Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit have banded together to find Milo Patterson, 38, the latest parent to vanish in the string of mysterious abductions that has plagued the area.
Patterson, an avid sports fan and a father of three who had recently enrolled in an auto-mechanic training program, disappeared April 3, shortly after a disagreement with his wife Janine. He is 5'8", of medium build, and was last seen wearing a Tommy Hilfiger windbreaker, jeans, and tan work boots. He has a tattoo of the Michelin Man on his left bicep.
"Whatever is going on, it's terrifying," said Clarissa Williams, who lives in the same housing complex as the missing father and has made her apartment a home base for the building's search efforts. "It couldn't be a worse time for this tragedy. Milo's got kids, a girlfriend he mighta knocked up, and from what I've been hearing, he owes money to just about everybody."
"We have no idea if Milo was abducted, or if he's lying hurt somewhere," Williams said. "All we know is that he disappeared without one word to his kids, his wife, or his boss down at Speedy Lube."
Williams said she has spent the past week collecting recent photos of Patterson and covering the area between Fort Street and the Detroit River with "missing parent" signs.
"Milo, wherever you are, don't worry!" Williams said. "We'll find you."
At an organizational meeting held Tuesday at the Christ the Redeemer Church, volunteers divided themselves into three search parties and began combing the neighborhood for clues.
"First place we checked was the Velvet Room over on Sunset," said longtime Delray resident Alfredrick Brussard. "But the bartender said he hadn't seen Milo all week. Then we went over to the Checker Bar & Grill, where he likes to go for happy hour, and his friend Art's apartment, where he watches the games."
"We also sent a search party down to the Freddy's Towing parking lot and around by those picnic tables in Lincoln Park," Brussard continued. "Well, there wasn't any trace of him anywhere. It's like he vanished into thin air."
Patterson's wife Janine Ordonez explained that, before alerting police to the case, she made sure that he was really missing.
"I'm used to him disappearing now and again for a spell," said Ordonez, tears welling up in her eyes. "But when my payday came around and he didn't even show up, I said, 'Lord Jesus, my baby's gone.'"
Neighborhood resident Clive Delapaz said he and friends held a candlelight prayer vigil on Friday for the missing man.
"It's important not to lose hope," Delapaz said. "God works in mysterious ways, and Milo's disappearance is all a part of His plan. We must have faith."
Hardware-store clerk Moses Mitchell, 58, led Monday's second-shift search party.
"In an emergency situation, it's important not to panic," Mitchell said. "I told everyone to stay calm. Especially Milo's mother—she was fixing to move in with him and Janine."
Detroit police officer Aubrayo Venzetti said the 4th Precinct has been working around the clock to find Patterson.
"We're doing everything we can to find this man," Venzetti said. "We've contacted federal authorities, but they seem reluctant to send additional assistance. Surprisingly, even local TV and radio stations have been slow to get involved."
As they wait for help, local community members continue their efforts. Tedaryl Kudrow, who owns a liquor store frequented by the missing man, has placed Patterson's photo on the front of his cash register.
"I'm doing what I can, and that's not just 'cause Milo was a good customer," Kudrow said. "Sad thing is, abductees are not the only victims in an abduction. What will happen to the children these kidnappers have left fatherless? For the sake of those kids, we have got to find Milo."
Patterson is the 53rd adult to go missing in the Delray neighborhood this year.