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Where is Dakota James? Pittsburgh grad student vanished without a trace

by Ellen Killoran

The 23-year-old mysteriously disappeared in January

Pittsburgh police have been following every lead in the search for a young man who went mysteriously missing a month ago. And while the investigation has not turned up any significant clues, police say they aren’t giving up.

Dakota James, 23, was last seen on the night of January 25, caught on surveillance camera walking in Katz Plaza in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, James had gone for happy hour drinks with co-workers earlier that evening, followed by dinner with a female friend. That friend took a car home using a rideshare app shortly before James was last seen at a public transit station, but it’s unclear if he boarded a train.

There has been no activity on James’s cell phone or bank account since that time.

“The sad truth is the timeline will end around 11:49 p.m. when Dakota James vanishes,” Pittsburgh Police Lt. Victor Joseph said in a news conference on Monday. “We remain hopeful that we will find him, and want Dakota’s family and the general public to know that we have not given up.”

Investigators have searched extensively for the missing Duquesne University graduate student, looking for signs of him in three rivers near Pittsburgh, in landfills, and homeless communities. They have gone through footage from every surveillance camera near where he was last seen.

At Monday’s news conference, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said the police force was committed to finding the young man.

“As we said in the beginning of this, we’re going to continue to search,” Schubert said. “We want to find Dakota for his family.”

Schubert said that police are still treating the disappearance as a missing persons investigation as there is no evidence of foul play at this time.

James’s family has offered a $10,000 reward for information that helps find him. In Monday’s news conference, Pittsburgh police appealed to locals who may have been at any of the locations James visited on the night of January 25 to contact police if they may have seen him.

James is white, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 145 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes and a beard. He has piercings on both ears. On the night of January 25, he was reportedly wearing blue jeans, a dark grey or black Columbia jacket, a red shirt, and tan moccasins.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Pittsburgh police at 412-323-7141.

 

Photo: Handout

Ellen is a seasoned journalist and former media & entertainment reporter with a taste for true crime. Formerly a senior editor at IBTimes, her work has appeared in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Maxim, NYMag, Indiewire, and more. She co-produced the HBO documentary "Youth Knows No Pain" and appeared in a documentary series that aired alongside the Lifetime movie "Manson's Lost Girls."