ERIE, Pa. -- More than 100 volunteers showed up in Erie, Pa. Tuesday to lend a hand in the ongoing search for 17-year-old Jacob Samusenko, who went missing two weeks ago.
"The family really appreciates the community support. It's tough, very tough, because it's almost like we could make peace with the fact that he might be gone, as difficult as that would be, but we just don't know and that's what makes this so difficult," Lyubov Rafferty, a relative of, and spokesperson for, the Samusenko family told The Huffington Post.
Adrian Ewing, a local resident who was touched by Samusenko's disappearance, helped organize and manage Tuesday's search efforts.
"We covered basically the entire Eastern portion of the City of Erie," Ewing told HuffPost. "The next step is to try to get some dog teams out here."
According to Ewing, approximately 150 area residents registered to help look for Samusenko and provide administrative support for the effort.
Samusenko was last seen on the night of Jan. 29, at his home in the 300 block of East 2nd Street. According to Rafferty, Samusenko disappeared shortly after returning home from basketball practice.
"He was really tired and said he was taking trash out," Rafferty said. "The trash was taken out, so we know that was done, but nobody has seen him since. We originally thought he might have gone for a run -- he was a runner and would run along the lake -- but we have not found any camera or security footage of him running along the docks."
Rafferty said it would be completely out of character for Samusenko to run away.
"He attends church, he is an honor roll student and he's never been in trouble in his life," she said. "There is no evidence of, or reason for, him to run away."
Peter Samusenko, the missing teen's brother, said he is certain his brother did not run away but does not have any idea what might have happened to him.
"He just disappeared. I don't know and no one in our family knows. Anything at this point right now is possible," he told HuffPost.
Jacob Samusenko's disappearance is being investigated by the Erie Police Department, and is considered a missing-person case since there is no evidence Samusenko either ran away or was abducted, investigators have said. The police department could not be immediately reached for comment.
Ewing said himself -- as did many of the volunteers who participated in Tuesday's search efforts -- that he is upset police did not participate in the search.
"There was no involvement by our local police department," Ewing said. "People are very frustrated that the City of Erie has no one out here. There is no official presence, no fire department, no search and rescue team, nothing."
Ewing added, "What really burns me up is Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott could not even show up. What is he doing today that's more important? He doesn't give two shits about this case and that's what you should write. We are upset."
While Ewing and other volunteers expressed frustration with police, Rafferty said Samusenko's family is appreciative of everything law enforcement is doing to help find their missing love one.
"Personally, I know the police have done multiple casings of the neighborhood and everything. I know the detectives themselves on their days off go looking personally. They don't have to do that -- it's their day off -- but they still go and do that and the family really appreciates it," Rafferty said.
Jacob Samusenko is 5 foot 5 inches tall and 130 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing track pants and a red zip-up sweater. The "Help Find Jacob Samusenko" Facebook page was created to help share information in the case. A $10,000 reward is being offered for direct leads. Anyone with information is asked to contact Erie police at 814-870-1156 or 814-870-1125.
"If anybody knows anything or thinks they might know something -- any information is better than no information and their little piece might help put together a bigger picture -- they should contact police," Rafferty said.
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