Search continues for missing FSU student from So Fla

Ryan Uhre went missing nearly 2 weeks ago

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It will soon be two weeks since a Florida State University student from South Florida disappeared without a trace. His family is growing very anxious about whether the 23-year-old will ever be found alive.

Ryan Uhre, 23, has been missing for 11 days. On Super Bowl Sunday, he watched the first half of the Super Bowl with fraternity brothers and bartender Vince Brown.

"He's a really nice kid, so for him not to be, gone," Brown said, shaking his head.

Uhre walked out at halftime and into Andrew's a few doors down.

"About 8:30 and he got some to-go food and then left," said Manager Jack Penrod.

Police have been to both places as they try to pick up Uhre's trail from the last place anyone saw the FSU student from Weston.

A lead that Uhre's cell phone pinged in Broward County last week turned out to be nothing. It was a mistake, and now authorities have indication that his cell phone was actually turned off the night he vanished.

"We thought he walked home," said Penrod. "We had other things we were doing, not paying attention. No one called and said, 'Where are you?' Did call phone off."

Brothers said Uhre lives at the ADPhi house. One who works at a call center with him called police when he didn't show for work Feb. 7.

"I know he went to Saint Thomas, I know he's from Weston," said Donni Cohen, who learned about Uhre's disappearance on Twitter. "From all the retweets, everyone has been retweeting things about him."

Friends' social media blitz is making him a familiar face, one that no one has seen in 11 days now.

"It would be odd for him to go that long not to call, especially with as much coverage he's been getting," said Cohen.

Some members of South Florida's gay community fear that the secrecy around Uhre's sexual orientation may be getting in the way of finding him.

The Florida State University psychology student and legislative intern wanted to go to law school. But it was not public knowledge that he was gay, said South Florida Gay News publisher Norm Kent.  

The Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus agreed that Uhre's sexual orientation could be an important clue.  Uhre graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a private Roman Catholic school in Fort Lauderdale, where he was in the wrestling team.

"He came out to his gay high school teacher a few years ago," Kent wrote in an editorial.  

 Although Pope Francis has a compassionate tone toward the gay community, the general consensus among the Roman Catholic hierarchy is that homosexuality is contrary to natural law. The church opposes same-sex marriage.  

"His friends in Tallahassee and his father have to come forward with everything – even those things that may be painfully personally," Kent told WPLG-Local 10 News Thursday. "We have to find him and therefore we have to provide the police with all of the facts."

Uhre's dad, Michael Uhre, told the Tallahasse Democrat that his son's fraternity brothers at the FSU chapter of Alpha Delta Phi said Uhre would sometimes disappear for weekends.

Detectives have his computer. He was last seen leaving Andrew's Bar & Grill alone in downtown Tallahassee on Super Bowl Sunday.

Tallahassee has a handful of gay bars and lounges in the All Saints neighborhood. The city also hosts a Gay Pride parade in April.

"If you are living your life in a concealed way you are not going to say that you are going to a gay bar, after you leave the straight bar," Kent said.  "The isolation of gay life, the desire to run away from a social situation, and the secret environments may be important factors."

And Kent said he feared the worst. A few weeks ago, Robert Glenn Hucks, 20, vanished after he left a bar in Jacksonville. Hunters found his body in the woods and his killer was arrested. But Hucks was openly gay. He reportedly told his friends he dreamed of getting married to a man and adopting five children. That facilitated the search for his killer, Kent said. 

Best case scenario, Uhre runaway, Kent said. Living a double life can cause mental anguish.

"Some gay kids are not able to adapt," Kent said.

Meanwhile, the search for Uhre continues. There will be a praying vigil Sunday at 6 p.m. near the Sheraton Yankee Clipper hotel, 1749 SE 13th St. And police are asking anyone with information to call 850-891-4200 or 1-888-876-8477.

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