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As search for Crestwood man goes on, dad says ‘My heart’s broken’

People gather Crestwood receive informatiform search groups look for car missing college student Jimmy Sylvester 21 Monday April 1 2013.

People gather in Crestwood to receive information and form search groups to look for the car of missing college student Jimmy Sylvester, 21, Monday, April 1, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 3, 2013 6:13AM



James Sylvester is familiar with some local lakes and forest preserves, and the 21-year-old Crestwood man could easily find a place to be alone without being found if need be, his father said Monday.

Jim Sylvester hopes that’s the case with his son, who has been missing since Thursday.

Hundreds of friends, relatives and Crestwood police searched again Monday for James, who was distraught over a relationship breakup and had contacted friends and said, “Tell everyone I’m sorry,” according to police.

“I think he would go somewhere where people wouldn’t know where he would be,” Jim Sylvester said Monday at the Ultra Foods store in Crestwood, which served as a meeting place for search parties scouring nearby areas for signs of James or his car.

James’ father said his son had gone through a breakup about three weeks ago but that if there were any problems or stress, he masked it well.

But since Thursday, no further activity from James’ phone has been detected, and there has been no contact with friends or family and no credit card activity, police said. Activity discovered on his computer led authorities to believe Sylvester may harm himself, police said.

Jim Sylvester, a lifelong Crestwood resident, pleaded for his son to try to make contact with the family by any means possible and in any way which might make him feel comfortable if he is embarrassed about a search having been launched, or if he needs money wired to him somewhere.

“My heart’s broken,” said Sylvester, who said he spent the first day after his son’s disappearance staring out the window — in tears — expecting him to pull up in the driveway.

About 30 or 40 people, including friends of James’ from DeVry University, participated in the morning search around the Crestwood area. About 100 other people were searching other areas, including Lockport and Braidwood, which James is familiar with from going fishing, Jim Sylvester said.

The search parties near Crestwood were concentrating on an area from Cicero to Central avenues, between 143rd and 147th streets, the last place he used his cell phone. Jim Sylvester took a moment to thank volunteers for their help, and asked them not to try to be heroes or risk getting hurt.

He said James was savvy enough to know to turn his phone off if he didn’t want his location traced.

The U.S. Coast Guard has searched the Calumet Sag Channel, and aerial searches were conducted over much of the Southland’s forest preserve areas. A network of UPS drivers also were keeping an eye out for the missing man.

A Facebook page, “Help Us Find Jim Sylvester,” has been set up, and more than 1,300 people had “liked” it as of Monday evening, many offering to help with future searches. The page also said a prayer service was scheduled for Monday night at Incarnation Catholic Parish in Palos Heights.

James Sylvester, who attended Nathan Hale Middle School in Crestwood and Shepard High School in Palos Heights, is described as 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes and a reddish brown beard. He was last seen wearing a Carhartt jacket and black gym shoes, and was driving a 2002 Beige Honda Civic with the license plate number N 253967, police said.

Crestwood police Sgt. Chris Soderlund told searchers to focus on looking for the car.

“At some point, the car’s going to turn up,” he said.

Anyone who has information about James’ whereabouts is asked to call the Crestwood Police Department at (708) 385-5131 or (708) 371-4800.



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