John Fernandez, the Seton Hall student who went missing since December 13, 2015, has been the victim of bullying from high school all the way to college, according to his mother Ninia Fernandez.
John Fernandez, missing since December 2015, has been described as a 'very bright kid, but somewhat socially awkward.' Facebook photo
John – also called JP by family and close friends – was reported missing by Patch.com, quoting township police. He was described in the news report as “Filipino male, 5’10 with a thin build, and black hair.”
Ninia described John – the third of four children – as a “socially awkward” individual who is “very bright,” and loves to read manga comic books. He is a Seton Hall scholar, majoring in Accounting, and is due to graduate in May of this year.
The day he went missing, the family found a six-page suicide letter hidden inside a stuffed eagle toy. In it he wrote about wanting to end his life because he feels “inadequate with amazing people.”
It is not clear to the Fernandez family who John was referring to but they could only go by what they have observed in him: How he was bullied at Middletown High School North and came home with his shirt torn and spat on; how he appeared to have become disconnected with his older brother since he got married; and how has remained mostly by himself while his siblings have their own social lives.
“Mabait na bata, weirdo lang ng konti,” Ninia, manager of a laboratory at St. Joseph’s Regional medical Center in Patterson, told The FilAm. “He has an identity crisis.”
The morning of December 13 when John went missing, the family thought he simply went out jogging on his usual route on the east side of Middletown. The night before, he was looking for an iPad cable. “We thought he was preparing for his jog and would bring his iPad for music,” she said.
Ninia went to John’s room and saw it was neat and all the books to be returned were in one place ready to be shipped to the rental store. She continued to prepare the family’s lunch of ‘lomi,’ and still no signs of her son. Her daughters said for her to “leave him alone, he’s 22 years old.” The mother in Ninia sensed something troubling and decided to cancel her hair appointment that day. The police was called.
The initial search led them to John’s suicide note. His cell phone was found inside a Ziploc bag on the side of a road.
“My son left everything behind. He said he would end his life in a high place somewhere in the woods,” said Ninia. “The police did not find any body in the woods.”
It’s been more than 47 days since John disappeared, and the police have found no body everywhere they looked. The police did a helicopter search around Natco Lake, a fishing site in Monmouth County, and found no signs of him.
“The police are wondering, if it’s suicide where is the body?” said Ninia.
The investigation has remained focused on the suicide angle. Ninia said she and her husband Kelly, an auto mechanic, do not know what else to think.
“Walang araw na hindi ako lumuluha,” she said. “Isang galong luha na yata ang iniyak ko.”
She and her husband remain hopeful that John will be found. “As a mother, what are you supposed to think?” —The FilAm