EDISON, NJ – Police safely located a township man who had seemingly vanished after leaving the hospital last month.
According to police, Thomas Roach, 52, left Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Somerville on July 10 and seemed to vanish with his car empty in the parking lot.
Roach’s family filed a missing person’s report after not hearing from him since June 2, police said.
According to police the family was alarmed because Roach was ordinarily close with them making the lack of communication an unusual situation.
The family created a page on Facebook to help find Roach and Detective Jeff Tierney investigated the case, police said.
Despite more than a month of searching and investigating, no leads turned up and police went to the media Monday to try and help locate him.
With the story out, about 36 hours later, police finally located Roach at a private rehabilitation facility where he voluntarily checked himself in for alcoholism and an addiction to oxycodone immediately after leaving the hospital in July.
Police said that he took private transportation to the facility and simply left his car in the hospital lot.
Tierney said he got an anonymous tip on Tuesday from a person that saw news reports of Roach’s disappearance and recognized him.
The detective then narrowed down rehabilitation facilities where Roach might be.
“From there, it was just a matter of old-fashioned legwork,” Tierney said.
Tierney said that such facilities are not required to assist police in locating someone under its care due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) law which protects the privacy of patients.
“Someone at one of the facilities I contact got word to Mr. Roach that his family was worried about him, prompting him to phone them and put their minds at ease,” Tierney said.
“It's rewarding when a missing persons case has a happy ending,” said Police Chief Thomas Bryan, commending Tierney's efforts. “Police work is sometimes a partnership between our officers or detectives and the public-at-large. They are our eyes and ears in the community and, in this case, helped bring peace of mind to a concerned local family.”
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