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A new tip and a call for help

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Today, we have a very significant lead from a fellow USC student
A man who looked like Derek with a full beard was spotted in in Northern California, near where the 395/203 highways meet
Is anyone out there able to help put posters and flyers up in the following places near where we received this tip?
  • June Lake (resort town)
  • Lee Vining
  • Bridgeport
  • Carson City
  • Reno (closest REI)
  • Bishop
  • Lone Pine
  • Big Pine
  • Olancha
  • Independence

While its almost been a year and a half from the time we last saw Derek, we do think the weight of the person who gave us this tip means we are obligated to follow up. We’re asking anyone who may be in the area or near by who can help please contact us at

so that we can coordinate a follow up to this significant lead

Thank you!

-Help Find Derek team

We would be eternally grateful!

As it happens, there is a livestream camera in the area


One year in. From Mary to Derek

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Hi Friend,

It’s been almost a year since you’ve been gone. A lot has changed. You can’t find me at CVT in unit 1302 baking up a batch of s’mores cookies or cooking up some spaghetti bolognese. Shuhan moved to Boston for residency.

People say that time heals all wounds. I’m not certain. As time passes, I think of you less, yet I think of you more. I wonder about you regularly. Mostly, I hope that you are alive and well; I hope that you are in Mexico or Costa Rica surfing or mountain manning it on the PCT. Where ever you are, where ever you may be, where ever you may go, as much as I miss you and wish you were here, I hope you have found the peace that you need. Until the day that your dead body shows up, I’m going to keep sending you prayers, thoughts and good juju and good karma.

You will remain in my memory the most kind and empathetic person- there are so many times that you’ve shown me how to be more. Thank you for being my friend.

Love you Derek

P.S. These are little random bits that I want to tell you about if you’re out there reading this.

I’ve been on one car camping trip since you left. It was a disaster. First of all it was in Wisconsin. Second of all, a storm blew through and Shuhan broke his arm and needed a staple on his head. Shuhan told me to tourniquet his head wound and I was super confused- was I supposed to tourniquet his neck? That didn’t make sense. I’m missing all the crazy shenanigans on the camping trips- I’m definitely sad we haven’t had any more campfire cooking.

Shuhan and I went to Nepal and climbed to Everest Base Camp. We did it on the cheap. You would love it- so gorgeous- the tea houses, yaks, Himalayas. We stayed at this place in Pangboche that would have been perfect for our tri-be- three mattesses next to each other. I also pooped in my pants… twice. I don’t know if you would have found it hilarious, disgusting or a little of both. I think it’s disgustingly hilarious.

I didn’t go surfing for a really long time. I went a month ago for the first time to clear my head. I still suck. I could definitely still use your help getting towed out. Remember that moment you and I realized too late that I was going to eat it on that wave and then eating it… hard. Oops. I really miss the before/ after surfing treats- The Kettle, that pancake place, Whole Foods. I used most of the duck fat that you got me from Whole Foods after one of our surfing escapades and they are the perfect accoutrement to roasted rosemary potatoes. I think of you every time I’m driving to El Porto and when I’m in the water, I feel peace.

Shuhan and I hosted exactly one more dinner party. You know that you RSVP’ed “Yes” on Facebook right? One of the greatest compliment you gave me was “just tell Mary you’re coming over to study and she’ll feed you.” You brought a bottle of wine every single time you came over. I miss cooking for our little family.

Shuhan and I aren’t together anymore. I wonder what you would say to him. I wonder what you would say to me. I know you would have been sad.

A lot has happened this year. What about you?

One Year in

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Derek has been missing for one year now.

One year ago, friends, family, and myself spent every minute in what felt like an impossible struggle to searching for Derek. With the gracious help of local store owners and their surveillance footage, with the help of the hard working men and women in all the legal labyrinths we had to navigate, and with the hard work of all of his friends and family, we put every ounce of ourselves into finding him. One year ago there were things we could do to bring him back. But despite our best efforts we never did.

And in the past year, we’ve gone through spurts of hope, even longer periods of silence and paralyzing calm in the hope that maybe something would turn up. He never did.

I’ve always thought of how exactly I should feel. Sometimes I feel like I failed. Other days, I feel like I should have hope, because that helps me feel like Derek is still out there. Some days, I do feel like he is out there, just calmly surfing the gulf of Mexico on a tropical resort without a care in the world. Other days I think maybe that’s just foolish and naive of me to think that. Everyone might think I’m a bit of sucker, I’d tell myself. I wouldn’t want people to think that. Or, maybe I should be a bit more realistic. He wouldn’t keep us all wondering like this. We know that he was just too considerate. Who knows what the right answer is–there’s not textbook for this kind of stuff.

In the last few days leading up to this anniversary, I’ve read amazing stories of love and hope and memories of what Derek was like when he was in all of our lives. He was warm, compassionate, intelligent, loving, curious, fun, loyal and amazing, not just to me, but to so many different people. One year in, that’s all I can do now. Every day I try to remind myself to be more like Derek.

That’s all I can do now to help find Derek. There’s no footage left to be had, all the clues have dried up, and every avenue has been exhausted.  In another year, that might again still be the case. It might be that way for the rest of our lives. But this website will be here in the hope that it may someday be useful in helping find Derek. But until then, the only thing I can do, is to live every day like Derek is there. To be a bit more compassionate, to be more curious, and more loving to those around me. Maybe I’ll put a bit more priority on that trip to South America I’ve always wanted to take. That’s what Derek would have done. Or maybe I’ll go out of my way to I tell someone that that I appreciate them and give them a hug, just like Derek would have done. I can only try, in the hope that I can someday be more like him. Just like I will always try to find him and bring him home. I will always try to keep him in my life.

Thank you all for your kind messages in the past year. It means a great deal to me and everyone else involved in the search for Derek.


Happy Birthday Derek

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Happy birthday! Wherever you are, and however you may be today, you’re loved by your friends and family. We miss you, and we love you dearly.

I’m sitting here studying for an exam, drinking coffee and watching life go by. Every day these little moments that make me remember just how much I miss you. Every good thing that happens to me makes me think about how you should have been here, because you would have been happy for me.

For every bit of bad news or setback that I get in life, I remember how comfortable I felt sharing that with you too. Driving in a car. Oh, that’s the toughest. I used to have conversations with myself, but I now find that I’m actually more comfortable thinking about all my faults and vulnerabilities when you’re part of my inner monologue, more so than when I talk to myself. Go figure.

When I hop on a flight, I think about your seat next to me. Where would you have slept when you stayed in San Francisco? Did you want to go to the moon festival in Tibet? How about Chile? Aconcagua? The TcDS machine still hasn’t been built, but I’ll get around to it. Mary is awesome at planning our interviews, isn’t she?

Regardless of what any future developments may be, the things I’ll always remember about you will always stay the same. I don’t know where you are, who does? But I know that I still think about you every day. You were always an incredible source of strength and intelligence, but your friendships were truly special. I’m a better person because of you. We’re all better people because of you.

To all his friends and family, I encourage you to share  any fond memories of Derek, either on the comments below, or on his Facebook page. These were mine, but I know I was just one of the many. These memories are special, and I know I would love to hear them all from you.


All the best





10/8 tip: The Importance of Photos and Derek’s Shoes

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Hi all,

Tips have been incredibly helpful in helping us advance the case and we’ve learned some important lessons about the best practices for tips. Here are just a few, with a case below to illustrate the importance.

  • In general, we have found that the most useful tips are the ones that include photos to help us confirm the accuracy of the report, and to easily include or exclude the tip as a possibility for a lead on Derek.
  • Flyers seem to work very well for creating new tips, especially those near the LA National Forest

Tip 10/8/14

Hello, I live in the city of Whittier. Today when I got home from work I spotted a pair of sneakers on the front porch. I asked my wife about them and she said that our gardener had found them hiding in a bush in our front yard. I inspected them and found a key chain with a key attached to it inside one the shoes. They appeared to have been there for a while because they have cobwebs on the soles. They are Nike size 10, gray with light blue trim. The reason I’m doing this is that I just came back from riding my mountain bike and on the entrance to the hiking trail I saw the missing person’s poster and I thought it might be connected to the disappearance of Derek. A lot of people come to hike on the Whittier hills. Some of these people sit in front of our house and some times they forget items. I don’t know if this is the case. Let me know if you have further questions.


Dear Martin,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write us about the shoes found in your yard.  I’m sure you can imagine how incredibly difficult the past several weeks have been for us, but I am sincerely grateful to the many people that have tried to help locate my son.  Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be any closer to an answer then we were when he first disappeared.  I was wondering if you would be so kind as to take a photo of the sneakers and send to me.  I can then forward to Derek’s friends to see if any of them recognize them.
Thank you,
Jean (Derek’s mother)

The Shoes

These were the shoes from the tip–The image is very helpful to us because we can confirm these shoes are not Derek’s. However, they are VERY close, and thus its a useful tip.



Shoes spotted near Whittier

Shoes Derek was wearing 8/5

Shoes Derek was wearing 8/5

Things we learned:

  1. please be on the lookout for Derek’ Shoes. They may be what breaks the case
  2. If possible, please attach any images you can to help us follow up on the case.
  3. All tips are greatly appreciated, and can truly break the case to help us find Derek. If these were Derek’s shoes, our search would immediately go to an on the grounds search for him.

All the best



LAist: Strange Details Emerge About The USC Medical Student Who Went Missing Over A Month Ago

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 From Jean Trih at the LAist:

More details about a USC medical student’s disappearance more than a month ago were revealed today in a press conference on campus.

Although 26-year-old Derek Seehausen was reported to be last seen in Echo Park on August 5, there have been a couple of recent potential sightings of the fourth-year medical student—and his family believes he may be in San Diego.

Someone had tipped off LAPD on Sept. 10 that a man who resembled Seehausen was shuffling on Pacific Coast Highway between Solana Beach and Cardiff by the Sea. Private investigator Thomas Martin said that he believed that was him because Seehausen has plantar fasciitis, a painful disorder that affects the heel of a foot. A family spokesperson told NBC San Diego that Seehausen often visited San Diego, had friends out there, and surfed at Mission Beach often.

L.A. County Sheriff’s department deputies reported to the LAPD that they may have spotted Seehausen on a Metro bus on Sept. 5. They had been reviewing surveillance video on the bus looking for a suspect accused of sexually assaulting people on a Los Angeles bus when they spotted a man on the bus that fit Seehausen’s description.

Initially, Seehausen was last seen in Echo Park on August 5. His family has surveillance video from a Vons on Alvarado Street, where Seehausen is seen taking $200 cash out from an ATM there at 10:34 p.m. Martin said Seehausen was later seen returning keys to a friend’s house on the 1000 block of Wilshire Boulevard. Seehausen also made a payment of $2,999 off of his iPhone to a friend he owed money to, though that is not considered a factor in his disappearance. Martin does not suspect foul play. The last sighting of him was at 12:02 a.m. that night heading on foot on the 2000 block of Alvarado Street.

When Seehausen had disappeared, his family initially was afraid that he was suicidal. But they still find the timing of his vanishing bizarre. His mother, Jean Godra, said at the press conference that just a week before her son, who was an avid outdoorsman, disappeared, he posted a happy video on Facebook of him scuba diving. He emailed her soon after, telling her about dates for his spring graduation and his Christmas plans.

“As you can imagine…this is an unimaginable nightmare for our family,” Godra said. “We don’t understand it. It isn’t at all—if you took a thousand people—Derek would be the last person to do this.”

Martin, Godra and Seehausen’s close friend, Shuhan He, described him as an athletic man who was at the top of his class and loved by everyone, including his peers. He said he talked to Seehausen three days before he went missing, and said they were making plans for the next weekend to go to a dinner party and watch a movie. When He got a call from the school administrator on August 8 that Seehausen hadn’t attended class in a couple of days, he found that to be strange since Seehausen was so studious.

“Med school is a difficult place, but he was someone who handled it well,” He said. “This was not something in character for him.”

Seehausen’s family and friends set up a website in hopes of finding him. Martin said that he still believes that Seehausen is still alive and that no law enforcement from the missing persons unit has said he is dead.

Seehausen is 6 feet tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He has brown hair and hazel eyes, and has a burn scar on his right arm. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie, a maroon t-shirt and tan shorts.

Anyone with information on Seehausen’s whereabouts is asked to contact the LAPD Adult Missing Person Unit at (213) 996-1800.


Los Angeles Register: USC med student vanishes

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From Jenna K Chandler of the Los Angeles Register: 

Tara Perry said she watched Derek Seehausen bust dorky dance moves as he flirted with women Aug. 5 at a Hollywood nightclub. Three days later, Erin Meisel said she said “hi” to him in passing at the hospital where they worked.

“He was smiling and having fun,” Perry said. “That‘s what’s saddening to us. I don’t know if there was something else to notice.”

The two women were among the last friends to talk with Seehausen – a top student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC – before he disappeared.

He was last seen on surveillance footage, shortly after midnight Aug. 6, walking by a 76 gas station on the 200 block of Alvarado Street with $200 and his driver’s license. He has been missing now for more than a month.

“It’s just as bizarre to me as it is to you,” said Shuhan He, a friend and classmate.

Some friends speculated that Seehausen wanted to vanish, perhaps stressed by the rigors of medical school and the looming transition into residency.

They said he loved hiking and camping in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains. He was fit too – recently placing fifth in his age group for an Iron Man competition at Lake Placid and climbing Half Dome in sandals. It is plausible, they said, that he retreated into the wilderness.

“He’s extraordinary determined,” said his mother, Jean Gadra. “That’s why we’ve said if was planning to do this, he of course did a good job.”

In high school, Seehausen would wash dishes after family meals and remember family members’ birthdays without prompting, she said.

“I cannot imagine him doing this to his family,” she added.

Whatever the reason, private investigator Thomas Martin says he believes that Seehausen is alive.

Seehausen’s family and friends are desperate to find him.

“As you can all imagine, this is an unimaginable nightmare for our family,” Gadra said. “If you knew Derek, he’d be the last person to do this. We love him, and we want him back.”

Gadra said that shortly before he vanished, Seehausen, who grew up in Philadelphia, was making plans with family to celebrate his graduation in the spring. He posted a video of himself to his Facebook page scuba diving in kelp, “hamming it up with a lobster.”

“Derek was full of life … he said he was living the dream in California, and I knew we’d never get him back,” she said.

Asking the public to join their search, she said, “is our best and last hope finding our son.”

Contact the writer: and @jennakchandler on Twitter