“I didn’t want it to be this way”
Missing student found dead
Story by Sherry Mazzocchi
Judith López received the kind of news that no mother ever wants to hear.
On November 14, her son, Anthony A. Ureña, 23, left his Upper West Side home for a club in Inwood.
He never returned.
That wasn’t like him. He was a Lehman College student with aspirations of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He loved his white pit bull Sampson so much that his two older brothers and sister knew he’d never leave him behind without a word.
Frantic, his family contacted the 23rd Precinct. They plastered notices with his image all over Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. They mobilized social media forces and news organizations picked up the story.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) subpoenaed his carrier for cell phone records.
But the family said publicly that the police weren’t doing enough. They entreated State Senator Adriano Espalliat for help. His office assisted in canvassing Inwood with volunteers armed with flyers and helped drive awareness. Online, the family and friends posted word of ongoing efforts and entreated residents to call or contact them if they had any information.
The family discovered that Ureña went to the Cliff Lounge on 202nd Street. He left the club alone.
It seems someone may have gotten him a cab, but he never took it.
“Anthony got out of the taxi, and he went to the chimichurri truck, which is located on 204 and Tenth Avenue, I guess, to buy food. And after that, he started walking toward 203 and Ninth Avenue,” reported Lopez.
The family obtained video from a nearby business. It revealed the young man stumbling through a parking lot. A car is headed down the one-way street, but then turns and heads in the wrong direction. After that, Ureña wanders out of camera view. It’s unclear where he was going.
After a month with no leads, the family created a GoFundMe page to hire a private detective.
“We need my Moreno back home,” posted Lopez, using the family’s nickname for her son. “The house is not the same without his craziness and smile, his dog is acting weird because he misses him.”
On Christmas Day, the family received news they hoped never to hear. Ureña was found in the Hudson River off Hoboken, New Jersey and was pronounced dead. The Newark medical examiner plans an autopsy.
Though Lopez thought her son was the victim of a crime, police believe the death was likely accidental.
After the discovery, a grief-stricken Lopez said she and the family were still in shock.
Speaking to news outlets, she said, “I didn’t want him to be found this way.”
“I guess it gives us the peace of mind, knowing that he was found, but I didn’t want it to be this way.”
The family said funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.