Nation & World

Dad vanished on trip in New Orleans. Now his NJ community is rallying to solve mystery

Screengrab from the New Orleans Police Department Facebook Page

A 33-year-old father from New Jersey vanished during an overnight business trip in New Orleans, leaving his community determined to help solve the mystery, media outlets reported.

Michael Gelfand was last heard from on Jan. 6, when he was supposed to be flying home to Jackson, New Jersey, from his trip, according to the New Orleans Police Department.

Five days later, on Jan. 11, he was reported missing, and dozens of his family friends and community members flew out to search for him, WGNO reported.

Since his disappearance, almost three dozen of Gelfand’s family, friends and members of his Orthodox Jewish community have traveled to New Orleans, setting up a command center at a hotel and spreading the word on social media using the tag #Bringmichaelhome, according to WGNO.

Nathan Ginsbury, spokesperson for the group, told the TV station that the search team had been mapping out Gelfand’s whereabouts using sightings, tips and security footage.

Gelfand’s disappearance has started to gain traction with the Jewish community nationally online, too, with rabbis and CEOs sharing news of the missing man.

The search team has publicly posted a $10,000 reward for anyone who may have information into the disappearance of Gelfand, who was last seen at the intersection of Canal and Carondelet Street.

According to the search party’s missing person poster, Gelfand is six feet, two inches tall and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, white sneakers, a white T-shirt, black hoodie and black baseball cap. It’s possible he could be wearing glasses and may be carrying a blue backpack.

The missing persons sign asks that if the public does see Gelfand, they should not approach, and call authorities immediately.

In addition, local authorities have shared details about Gelfand’s disappearance online in the hopes the public will be able to locate him.

While Gelfand’s disappearance is still a mystery, the search team has requested security video footage from different businesses where someone had used his credit card in the days since his disappearance, WGNO reported, leaving a trail of clues between drugstores, groceries and bars.

The New Orleans Police Department has asked anyone with information on the whereabouts of Gelfand to contact the department’s eighth district detectives at (504)-658-6080

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This story was originally published January 14, 2022 3:05 PM.

Alison Cutler is a National Real Time Reporter for the Southeast at McClatchy. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and previously worked for The News Leader in Staunton, VA, a branch of USAToday.
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