Mom’s letter to son who left suicide note: ‘We will not stop looking for you until we die’
It's been nearly 80 days since 22-year-old John Fernandez left his Middletown home, reportedly leaving behind a six-page suicide letter in which he talked about feeling "inadequate with amazing people.”
But in a heartfelt open letter to her son published on TheFilAm.net, a magazine for Filipino Americans, Ninia Fernandez pleads for her son, a Seton Hall student, to return. She says she prays "I will not run out of space on the wall for my counting sticks before you decide to come back home."
John Fernandez's sisters are sleeping in the living room, awaiting his return, Ninia Fernandez writes. She's sleeping for less than four hours a night.
"I haven’t stopped crying. I think I filled a gallon already," Ninia Fernandez writes in the letter. She's pushed through woods, day and night, looking for any sign of her son, it say. "Stepping out of the woods with thorns on your body, not fun at all, but if that’s what it takes to find you, I will do it every single day until I find you."
Ninia Fernandez vows to her son she won't do the things he loved most until he returns. She says she won't scuba dive, because she's lost her "scuba buddy." She won't make his favorite ramen until he's at the dinner table. Every time she tries to each a grape, she's reminded of his joking she can't eat just one, and cries.
"I miss how you just simply give me a hug when I cry. I need you to give me a big hug right now. The way you comfort me with your words, and your hug is something I will not forget," Ninia Fernandez writes.
Middletown Police Deputy Chief Stephen Dollinger said John Fenrandez's case remains open, though it's been some time since new leads came in. In the first few weeks after his disappearance, dozens of people took part in searches, along with police dogs on the ground and helicopters overhead. Police put out bulletins and interviewed anyone they could think of who might have seen John Fernandez, Dollinger said. A dive team reportedly searched a lake in Hazlet, but found nothing.
Ninia Fernandez wrote in her letter that someone tried to access her son's Facebook account a few days ago.
"I got text messages on your phone and an email notification. I hope it is you and not someone trying to hack your account. At that moment I jumped for joy. The expression on your Papa’s face was a 'Kodak' moment. We knew you were alive. I am really praying that it was you and not someone who is giving us false hopes," she writes.
She said in the letter "Your Papa and I will not stop looking for you until we die. ...
If I had to choose between loving you and breathing, I would use my last breath to tell you I love you."
According to a Middletown police notice at the time, John Fernandez was last seen at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 at his home on Kentucky Avenue. Police said his cell phone was found on the side of Route 36 in Hazlet near Natco Lake.
Nina Fernandez reportedly told the Setonian about the suicide letter earlier this month. She told the paper her son said he'd "end his life in a high place somewhere in the woods."
In January, she told TheFilAm.net John Fernandez had been the victim of bullying throughout grade school and college.
John Fernandez is described as a Filipino male, 5 feet and 10 inches, with a thin build and black hair. He may be wearing a dark grey leather jacket with a gray fabric hood and black high top "Heely" sneakers with wheels similar to roller skates, police said at the time of his disappearance. He may be in the area of Natco Lake in Hazlet Township or along the Henry Hudson Trail.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to call Detective Kelly Godley of the Middletown Police Department at 732-615-2120.