This story was last updated on Aug. 22.
Yohanes Kidane ’23 has been missing since Monday, Aug. 14 and was last seen in San Francisco, California after traveling by a rideshare service from San Jose, California, according to a statement to The Sun by the San Jose Police Department on Monday, Aug. 21. On Aug. 14, Kidane entered a black Toyota Camry with an Uber sticker on 28 N 4th St., San Jose.
Yohanes is a 22-year-old Black man described as weighing around 150 pounds and standing at 5 feet 8 inches. He was last seen wearing gray sweatpants, a black hoodie and black shoes.
Yohanes’ phone, wallet and backpack were found south of the Golden Gate Bridge near the Welcome Center. His phone location was at the bridge through Monday night.
Yohanes recently moved to California in late July to start his career as a software engineer for Netflix. He began the position on Monday, Aug. 7, a week before his disappearance.
He graduated with a degree in computer science from the College of Engineering in May and is originally from Rochester.
In an email to The Sun on Friday, Aug. 18, the SJPD stated there is currently an open missing persons investigation of Yohanes and that the investigation is ongoing.
An update written by the SJPD to The Sun on Monday, Aug. 21 stated that Yohanes was reported missing to the SJPD on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at approximately 2:45 p.m. PST. Patrol officers carried out an initial report and investigated the circumstances of Yohanes’ disappearance, and detectives from the SJPD Missing Persons Unit also investigated this matter.
The SJPD statement said that detectives have established that Yohanes used a rideshare service to travel from San Jose to San Francisco — the city where Yohanes was last seen.
“San Jose Police Detectives are coordinating their investigation with the California Highway Patrol, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, the United States Coast Guard, and the involved rideshare service to obtain a conclusive answer as to Mr. Kidane’s whereabouts,” the SJPD statement said.
The investigation thus far has not found evidence that indicates a crime took place, according to the SJPD.
“San Jose Detectives have kept Mr. Kidane’s family advised of all pertinent developments in the case,” the SJPD said. “The case will remain open until Mr. Kidane is located.”
Anybody with information that could be used to help find Yohanes is instructed to contact the San Jose Police Department at 408-277-8900 and can reference case number 23-227-0531. His brother Yosief Kidane ’22 can be reached at 585-489-4880 and his mother Hana Beyene can be reached at 585-500-5220.
Yohanes’ friends are collecting donations through a GoFundMe page to cover travel expenses for his family members as they continue the search.
According to Yosief, Sara Kidane — the younger sister of Yohanes and Yosief — noticed that Yohanes’ phone location was at the Golden Gate Bridge on Monday night, about an hour away from where he lived in San Jose. When Sara noticed that the location did not change overnight, she called Yosief at approximately 4 or 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to see if he had spoken recently to Yohanes.
Yosief had not, so for four or five hours throughout the morning, the family called Yohanes’ friends in the area, but they did not have information on his whereabouts. At around 8:30 a.m., the phone location moved, and a passerby who found Yohanes’ phone and wallet beside the Golden Gate Welcome Center answered a family member’s call. The citizen noticed the Yohanes’ belongings on his commute and was attempting to return them.
Yohanes did not show up to work on Tuesday, and police did not find him in his home. By Tuesday evening, the family flew to San Francisco, and by Wednesday morning, Yosief and his parents were spreading posters in the area, exploring the bridge and contacting media, friends and officers.
Lucas Achkarian ’23, who called Yohanes one of his closest friends and who has been actively involved in the efforts to locate Yohanes, said that there is still a lot of cloudiness surrounding what occurred. Achkarian described that Yohanes supposedly told co-workers in the lobby that he was going to see a friend, but that nobody knows who that friend may be.
Achkarian also noted uncertainty regarding if another Uber trip Yohanes took on Saturday is connected to the disappearance. Achkarian said that according to text messages between Yohanes and a different friend, the driver refused to take Yohanes back to his apartment and took him to Oakland — a city approximately an hour from San Jose — instead, which Achkarian sees as potentially concerning.
Achkarian last talked to Yohanes on Saturday afternoon over FaceTime along with one of their other friends. At the time, Yohanes appeared to be in a good mental state, Achkarian said.
“He was normal as always, [he’s] always been a really positive guy,” Achkarian said. “We don’t think there’s any self-harm or anything implicated from that. Because his family situation, I think, was perfectly fine, friends are fine, workplace is fine. He was super motivated, honestly. He was going to the gym and was just pretty excited about life.”
Yosief last talked to Yohanes on Sunday night for about an hour, talking about his first week at work, personal growth aims and how they want to continue to cherish their family. Yosief described Yohanes as a very intelligent, high-achieving individual with lofty expectations for himself.
“He was top of his class at Cornell, and that’s not an accident,” Yosief said. “He’s very smart, hardworking, diligent and good at what he does. He was prepared to take on this new role at this new company in a new state and excel and shine and be the best — because that’s all he settles for. And so talking to him [on Sunday], I felt very viscerally that killer confidence that he’s always had in anything he’s done. And it honestly inspired me like he’s done our whole lives.”
At Cornell, Yohanes was a teacher’s assistant for classes in discrete math and analysis of algorithms. He was also a research assistant in the Virtual Embodiment Lab and took a graduate-level course in distributed computing.
“He’s a great student, a great peer, a very bright individual. He has a very bright future ahead of him,” Yosief said. “But most of all, we just want Yohanes to come back and we want to find him and bring him back to our family because we need him — I need him.”
Yosief describes Yohanes as his best friend. Only a year apart, the two would frequently study and hang out together through their overlapping time at Cornell. While Yosief graduated from the Dyson School of Applied Economics in 2022, he was inspired by his brother to start taking computer science courses and even had his brother as a TA for one semester.
Achkarian described Yohanes as a positive and reliable person that is always willing to lend a helping hand to both friends and strangers.
“Anytime I had any sort of issue, I could come to him,” Achkarian said. “He’s what every person should honestly strive to be.”
Yosief told The Sun that the family members and friends working to find Yohanes are frustrated with what they see as a slow pace in the San Jose Police Department investigation and with how some information surrounding the case is not disclosed to the family. For these reasons, Yohanes’ family members and friends have taken on publicizing and investigating Yohanes’ missing status themselves.
Yosief said there is footage of someone that looks like Yohanes at the Golden Gate Bridge, but the cameras were reportedly not good enough to identify Yohanes, and more characterizing information is needed.
Yosief and other family members have gathered up camera footage in the San Jose area to provide to law enforcement. They have also contacted Uber in attempts to acquire details regarding where the car went and how long the trip was but, as private citizens are unable to receive confirmation on these metrics.
Yosief has focused on bringing more attention to Yohanes’ disappearance to acquire tips that would help relocate Yohanes. Yosief noted that his Instagram post about Yohanes has reached thousands of people and that the family has placed posters around the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, medical centers, youth shelters and homeless shelters.
“We’ve been working tirelessly. That’s all we can do,” Yosief said. “And that’s all we’re going to continue doing until we find him.”
Correction, Aug. 22, 8:20 p.m.: A previous version of this article contained the incorrect case number. The article has been corrected to reflect the accurate case number.