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A Connecticut man’s loved ones have launched a search since he disappeared last month after presumably going for a walk.
Gil Cunha, 50, was last seen by one of his relatives late at night on May 7, the West Haven Police Department said in a news release announcing that a silver alert had been issued for Cunha.
Cunha, a school teacher, was last seen by his father watching TV between midnight and 2 a.m., the missing man’s cousin, Lori Kenney, told Dateline. But after leaving his parent’s home in the West Shore area, he seemed to vanish altogether; he failed to contact anyone in the family, and his loved ones say that such behavior is highly unusual for him.
“It wasn’t unusual for Gil to go out for a walk,” Kenney told Dateline. “But when he didn’t return later that day, [his mother] knew something was wrong. He wouldn’t just take off without contacting his family.”
Prior to his disappearance, Cunha had placed himself in self-isolation for three weeks because he was sick and was concerned that he may have contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19) and could infect his loved ones. He did not get tested for the virus, but he did have multiple symptoms associated with COVID-19, his family said. He was also behaving strangely; he did not eat or sleep much, and seemed dazed and uninterested in the things he usually cared about, his loved ones told the New Haven Register.
Cunha’s family is concerned that he may have had COVID-19 and that one of the symptoms may have been changes in his mental state, leading to his disappearance, according to NBC News.
“If something happened to him because of the virus, or if he harmed himself, or even if someone did something to him, we would still find him. But he’s just gone without a trace,” Kenney said.
Cunha’s cash and credit cards, passport, and two cell phones were left behind, but his driver’s license was missing, NBC News reports. His wallet was at home, and there has been no activity on any of his accounts since his disappearance, according to the Register.
Following Cunha’s disappearance, authorities launched search efforts that included searching wooded areas and the shore near where Cunha lived with police dogs and drones, NBC News reports. His family also searched local hospitals for anyone matching his name or any John Does matching his description, but to no avail, according to the Register. The family has also reportedly put up hundreds of missing person posters in the community in their effort to bring Cunha home.
Cunha’s family do not believe that anyone had any reason to harm him or that he planned to harm himself. Cunha, who previously lived in Austria and worked as a teacher there, was a substitute teacher at an elementary school in West Haven until February, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought about widespread school closures, according to the Register. His family said that he was well-liked where he worked.
Cunha stands 5’10” tall and weighs around 175 pounds; his head is shaved and he has a dark-colored mustache and beard, according to police. He was last seen wearing a gray and blue windbreaker with a red or green bandana covering the lower half of his face, their statement reads. Anyone with any information on the case is encouraged to contact the West Haven Police at 203-937-3900.
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