Disappearance of Crestwood College Student 'Out of Character,' Family Says

Family describes 21-year-old James Sylvester, who went missing from Crestwood on March 27, as a "go getter." A search party is being organized for Monday (April 1).

Crestwood police resumed their search on Sunday for 21-year-old James Sylvester IV whose been missing since March 27.

Police focused their search at DeVry University’s Tinley Park campus looking for Sylvester’s beige-gold Honda Civic, while the missing man’s family spent Easter Sunday praying for his safe return.

 “PLEASE GIVE US AN EASTER MIRACLE PLEASE I BEG YOU,” his aunt, MaryJane Nowdomski, posted on her Facebook page.

The well-liked college student described by his aunt as a “go getter” vanished last Wednesday evening after watching television with his mother. Sylvester had also initiated a breakup with his girlfriend a few weeks ago, but his aunt—who is James’s mother’s sister—said the two were still on speaking terms and thought the couple would eventually get back together.

Police, family and friends are concerned Sylvester may try to harm himself because of activity on his computer and text messages sent to friends the night he disappeared, that said, “tell everyone I’m sorry.”

“He was watching ‘Duck Dynasty’ with his mom at 9:30 [Wednesday evening]. They were laughing and everything seemed fine,” Nowdomski said. “He went to his room and played around with his computer. He must have gotten sad.”

Nowdomski said her nephew sent texts to his best buddy, Anthony, asking his friend if they could talk. Anthony told him he’d be over after he showered. Sylvester sent several more texts to his friend, but by the time Anthony arrived at Sylvester’s house, the college student had already left.

Sylvester also sent a text message to his girlfriend who texted him back, saying she loved him.

His aunt said that her nephew, who attended Alan B. Shephard High School in Palos Heights, was due to graduate from college in June.  Sylvester was paying his own way through school and was in an accelerated three-year bachelor’s program at DeVry.

“This is very unusual behavior for him,” Nowdomski said. “He was never into drugs or in trouble. He never stayed overnight anywhere without calling his mother.”

When Sylvester still had not returned home on Thursday, his father and grandfather, also named James, checked all of the area forest-preserve parking lots for his car.

His sister, Amanda, tried to get Sylvester’s class schedule from DeVry but the university would not release it. After searching the campus parking lot for her brother’s car, Sylvester, who had a perfect attendance record at work and school, had not shown up for class. His family reported him missing to Crestwood Police on Thursday afternoon.

“Its been thought about that suicide may have crossed his mind because of the text messages,” his aunt said. “I wouldn’t say he was suicidal but distraught. He put a lot of pressure on himself. He didn’t believe in sitting idle. He may have been overwhelmed and stressed finishing up college.”

Nowdomski said that James was very much against the act of suicide and was an opinion he had discussed openly with family members.

“His little sister had gone to funerals for kids at school who had committed suicide and he said it wasn’t right. They weren’t hurting themselves, they were hurting their families,” his aunt said. “I know he wouldn’t hurt his family unless he was in a mind state that wasn’t him.”

Crestwood Police have told the family that Sylvestoer had searched Google maps on his phone around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Nowdomski said that her nephew’s cell phone carrier, Sprint, wouldn’t release that information to police without a court subpoena. No calls or Internet searches have taken place on Sylvester’s phone since then, which goes right to voice mail.

Authorities also checked state toll-booths but there are no records of Sylvester’s car passing through. His aunt said that her nephew hasn’t used his debit card since he went missing, nor do his parents believe he was carrying any cash.

Police also do not believe foul play to be involved, as do his parents.

An during which special equipment was used to detect a car or a body, turned up empty, giving the family a spark of hope on Easter.

The family is organizing a search party for the missing college student on Monday (April 1). Volunteers are asked to meet at 10 a.m. in the Ultra Foods parking lot at 13180 S Cicero Ave. in Crestwood. Volunteers will split into teams and search area parking lots for Sylvester’s car. No outdoor searches are planned.

A Facebook page has also been created for the missing Crestwood man, "Help Us Find Jim Sylvester."

Sylvester drives a beige-gold 2002 Honda Civic with Illinois license plate N253967, in Happy Hyundai plate frames.

He is described as white, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds with brown hair, blue eyes and a reddish-brown beard, police said. He was last seen wearing a brown Carhartt jacket and black gym shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crestwood police at 708-385-5131 or 708-371-4800.

Read more Patch coverage on the missing college student:

  • Police Search Area for Missing Crestwood Man - UPDATED
  • Police Search Forest Preserves for Missing Crestwood Man
teddyb88@hotmail.com April 02, 2013 at 12:53 AM
This is devestating, we know the family and send all our positive energy toward his safe return. They are all in our hearts. Has anyone checked with the towing companies that tow from the forest perserves.
Pat O April 03, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Pat O Praying for a safe return. One of the nicest young men you could ever meet. A credit to his family. Since high school he has been friends with my god son I am so shocked at all of this. I pray for his safe return and for his family for strength during this time of uncertainty.
tommy d. April 05, 2013 at 05:51 AM
sad story,sad case,looks like he needed some help with personell problems as well,you do not send the police,family,friends,on a wild goose chase,,you want to jump in a river over a girl,boyfriend,loss of your dog,lost at the boat..hey,your a grown man,,fess up,be a man........
carla April 05, 2013 at 10:05 PM
they just found him in the lake.. Praying for this family the Lord give them strength.. I am so sorry for their loss!!!
Acajudi April 08, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Please accept my prayers.


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