A third-year biochemistry student at the University of Chicago went missing Wednesday night, and his family suspects Austin Hudson-Lapore, 20, had ventured out to watch the storms passing through the city.
At a press conference Friday night, his father, Gregg LaPore, said his son was fascinated by weather and that might be the reason he left his apartment sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday with only his keys, leaving his wallet and cell phone behind.
He was last seen in the 5300 block of South Kimbark Avenue, police said in a report.
LaPore said his son could have taken East 53rd or East 55th streets from his apartment where he was last seen to the lake.
“This is our best guess,” his father said outside the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the 5800 block of South Woodlawn Avenue in Hyde Park. “We are appealing to the community that if anybody saw anything unusual around those routes, that they contact (police).”
A missing person report describes Hudson-Lapore as white, 5-foot-7 and about 120 pounds with blond hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, black gym shoes and an unknown top.
LaPore said Hudson-Lapore had just finished his last final exam Wednesday afternoon. The family, which has Chicago ties but now lives in New Mexico, recalled recently talking with Hudson-Lapore on Skype for up to three hours at a time, where he seemed happy and laughed with them.
His mother and father said there was no reason to suspect he was distraught or upset.
“He’s a smart, happy and outgoing young man who was fully engaged in his community,” LaPore said. “… And we’d like your help in getting him back.”
Hudson-Lapore’s family set up a website – FindAustinHudson.com – with pictures and more details about their loved one in hopes that it will aid in finding him.
Friends at the press conference cried and hugged one another as the family described Hudson-Lapore’s character and his plans to start work at a laboratory on campus so he could spend his last summer of college near his friends.
Those friends declined to speak to the media.
A family friend, Melanie Greenberg, 48, of Naperville, said she is still in shock.
“It’s just so surreal,” Greenberg said. “My mind can’t process it at all.”
Another young person was recently reported missing on the South Side.
Naomi Knight, 18, is a special needs student diagnosed with bi-polar disorder who was last seen about 7:15 a.m. Monday on the 6100 block of South Woodlawn Avenue, according to a missing person report. She might be in the area of 46th and Drexel Avenue or 52nd and Dorchester Avenue, police said.
The report describes Knight as black, 5-foot-4 and 136 pounds with black hair worn in a pony tail, brown eyes and a light brown complexion. She was last seen wearing a pink-and-white striped top, blue jeans and light brown Timberland boots.
Anyone with information on either missing person is asked to call Area Central detectives at 312-747-8380.