Editor’s Note: Jossiah Nguyen was found on July 21, just days after PIX11’s report on his case. Read more here.
BROOKLYN (PIX11) — When Kim Crown got off the elevated subway train at Lorimer Street on July 5, she didn’t expect to see a cousin she barely knew, sitting on a bench and wearing tattered jeans.
“I work in a predominantly Hasidic Jewish community,” Crown told PIX11 News, “so you don’t see a lot of Asians.”
Crown suspected the man was her missing cousin, Jossiah Nguyen, 25, from Savannah, Georgia, who had told his parents he was stuck in New York.
“And I turned around and walked back to him and said his name,” Crown recalled. “And he responded.”
Crown had seen on social media that Nguyen went missing from home just before Mother’s Day, May 8.
His parents, Yen and Bien Nguyen, told PIX11 News during a Zoom interview their son has struggled emotionally since he finished high school. Jossiah once joyfully performed modern dance, especially break dancing, and enjoyed recording rap music.
“You know, it breaks your heart to see your son like that,” Yen Nguyen, Jossiah’s father, said. “I’m glad he’s still alive, but he doesn’t look well.”
Jossiah’s mother said her son tried to reach both parents on May 13, by way of Facebook Messenger, five days after he left Georgia, telling them he’d lost his wallet and phone.
“He was asking for help financially for a bus ticket to get back to Savannah,” Jossiah’s mom said.
She is tormented about her son’s follow-up call on Facebook.
“Unfortunately, I missed the call,” Bien Nguyen said, her voice breaking. “And we haven’t heard from him since.”
The parents came to New York City on Saturday, June 25, when they heard about Missing Persons Day. The event was organized by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and the NYPD. While they were speaking to detectives, they learned their son had received a minor summons in Brooklyn the same day near a liquor store on Nostrand Avenue and St. John’s Place.
“We were able to actually see him on video, when he was summoned,” the mother said. “We actually went there. Nobody recognized him or gave us any leads.”
The parents learned their son’s phone had “pinged” at one point at Madison Plaza in lower Manhattan.
They didn’t hear about another sighting of Jossiah until July 5, when his father’s cousin got off the train and doubled back to the bench, on a hunch.
“He looked really skinny, dirty, you could tell he was living on the streets,” Kim Crown recalled. “He just had a winter coat next to him.”
Crown said she offered to help Jossiah, but he refused assistance.
“He just politely said, ‘I’m fine, I’m good, no thank you,'” she remembered.
Crown said her cousin was rolling a joint when she met him on the bench.
Jossiah’s parents are desperate to find him before he gets hurt. They have started a Facebook page called “JossiahNguyenMissingPerson.”
The young man’s mother is struggling to understand why he left home, knowing his parents would worry.
“I try to remember that I’m not in his shoes,” his mother said, her voice filled with emotion. “I haven’t had the same struggle with depression and those other things.”
She wanted people to know that her son was talented and loved the arts, showing his skills when the family lived in Atlanta.
“He and his friends, they used to go to our house and they would record rap music in the basement,” Jossiah’s mother said through tears.
The NYPD Missing Persons Squad normally advises New Yorkers to call 911 if they spot a missing, endangered person–or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
“The message is: his parents love him,” Yen Nguyen said. “We’ve always wanted the best for him.”
His mother is pleading with New Yorkers to help find her son.
“We just miss him, we love him, and we want him to be okay,” Bien Nguyen said.