April 30, 2008

Ithaca College Student Missing

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Late Monday night, the Ithaca Police Department and the Ithaca College Office of Public Safety began searching for Ithaca College freshman William Jacobson, who has been missing since approximately 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Jacobson was last seen leaving a party held at a residence on Grandview Avenue.
According to Jacobson’s friend Alex Rosenblatt, a sophomore at I.C., who was with Jacobson earlier in the evening, Jacobson was shown a “50 foot shortcut” through the woods to get back to I.C. Friends soon noticed that his phone was dead and that Jacobson was not text messaging them as he frequently did. By Monday afternoon, Rosenblatt noted that Jacobson’s friends became alarmed since “we hadn’t seen him in such a long time.”[img_assist|nid=30357|title=Willie Jacobson|desc=Local and state authorities are looking for the I.C. student Courtesy of Ithaca College|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Before alerting Public Safety and the IPD, approximately 25 of Jacobson’s friends set out to search the woods for him. They also created a Facebook group and plastered missing flyer posters all over I.C., downtown Ithaca, Collegetown and Cornell’s campus to raise awareness.
“We did our own student organizing as much as we could,” said Rosenblatt. “Students [and the I.C. community] are really coming together. Even people who didn’t know him. We need to keep the awareness going and support each other.”
Dave Maley, associate director for campus communication at Ithaca College, said several agencies are involved in the search effort including the Ithaca College Office of Public Safety, the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, the IPD, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York State Police, as well as the forest rangers since they have expertise in search operations. Maley added that there are also a number of volunteers from local fire departments involved in the search effort.
“It’s a multi-agency search effort with dozens of people involved,” he said.
A woman who answered the phone at the IPD, but did not wish to be identified said, “Virtually all our resources are out looking for him.”
An e-mail sent to the I.C. community by Intercom, which is “information central for Ithaca College,” described Jacobson as a “white male, approximately 5’9” tall, 165 pounds, with a thin build. He has black wavy hair, a goatee and a mustache. When last seen, he was wearing a white long-sleeved dress shirt, navy blue vest, black dress pants and black dress shoes.”
Going by the nickname “Willie,” both his friends and his family indicated that there is nothing in Jacobson’s background, experiences or prior contact with anyone that suggests that he would take off on his own without contacting anyone. Maley said there is no reason to believe that foul play is involved. But he added, “We’ll follow up any possibilities.”
Maley explained that this is the first a time a student at Ithaca College has gone missing under mysterious circumstances.
“We’ve had students on occasion disappear for a day or up to a couple days. They usually went out of town to visit a friend at another college and didn’t notify their friends, but then they’ve turned up,” he said. “This is a circumstance where because of when he was last seen … we are doing as much as we can to do a search in all of the surrounding areas to see if we can find him.”
Maley said there has been no contact with Jacobson’s cell phone and that he does not have a car on campus.
Searchers are concentrating their efforts in I.C.’s South Hill area including Coddington Road, Hudson Street, Aurora Street and Danby Road along with the surrounding area of Ithaca College.
Anyone who has any information about Jacobson should contact the Ithaca Police Department at 607-274-1060 or 607-272-3245, or the Ithaca College Office of Public Safety at 607-274-3333.