Dive teams continue to search for missing UNF student

Thursday is George Louissaint Jr.'s 21st birthday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five days after UNF student George Louissaint Jr. went missing, search teams are still looking for him on the UNF campus.

Louissaint was last seen Sunday morning and crews have searched 14 square miles and 27 bodies of water, UNF police said.

Wednesday, police said that the search would begin to wind down, and the focus of the investigation will turn to how he disappeared, but Thursday, on Louissaint's 21st birthday, dive teams will return to search more ponds and lakes on campus.

UNF police Chief Frank Mackesy said Wednesday they are not giving up the search, but visible activity will decrease as the focus turns to following tips and developing leads.

"The guy just vanished. I'm hoping this guy just walked away and doesn't want to be found," Mackesy said Wednesday. "If you sit with that mom for any length of time, you've got to have hope."

Dozens of searchers will finish the search grids they started Tuesday and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team will complete searches of remaining bodies of water Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.

"Somebody out there knows what happened to George Louissaint. What I'm asking is let us know," Mackesy said.

Police are asking for homeowners along Kernan Boulevard to check security footage for any unusual activity or signs of the UNF student missing since early Sunday morning.

University representatives said they are taking every tip seriously and continue to ask for help from the public.

"Please keep sharing George's photo on social media," UNF public relations director Joanna Norris said. "No lead is too small, so please, if you have anything, if you find anything on your footage, please call these numbers."

On Tuesday, police expanded their efforts to find Louissaint, with between 100 and 150 officers, recruits and corrections recruits from training academies involved in the search.

Mackesy said the family's strength has kept searchers motivated.

"We're no closer today than the day he went missing," Mackesy said. "It's frustrating. I've had many opportunities to meet the family. They're distraught."

Louissaint was last seen leaving a party that had been broken up by police about 3 a.m. Sunday. Police said that Louissaint may have been upset after an altercation at the party.

Police are searching for ways Louissaint might have left campus but have found no good leads.

"He basically disappeared into the wind," said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office director Michelle Cook.

Louissant's family has been on the UNF campus since Sunday, but they did not want to talk to the media Wednesday. Thursday would be their son's 21st birthday.

A university official said the family is hurting.

"They are doing as well as can be expected," said Shelia Spivey, director of the UNF Women's Center. "This is a really difficult time for them."

Tuesday, police implemented a grid survey using 10 teams of 10 officers each.

Louissaint was last seen early Sunday morning at a party at the UNF Flats apartments where police were called due to the amount of liquor involved. He was seen running toward a wooded area, and hasn't been seen since.

"After the party was broken up, there was an argument between groups of people. Right now, our information is that our missing student wasn't involved in that altercation," Mackesy said Tuesday. "We have friends of his telling us that after that altercation, he ran into the woods."

Mackesy said campus police, with help from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, have searched woods with officers, K-9 teams and bloodhounds without finding a trace of Louissaint.

Mackesy said the student's car is with his roommate and his phone appears to be off and there have not been any financial transactions. 

"Some of the things that are being done are consistent with him not wanting to be found," Mackesy said.

The Louissant family drove up from Fort Lauderdale, and his girlfriend, who's a college student living in Mobile, Alabama, came to Jacksonville to help with the search. They were on campus, passing out fliers and asking any and anyone if they have seen him.

"Whatever I can do to find him, whatever I can do to help his parents and help his whole family," said Latesha Fleming, his girlfriend. "I just want him to know that we're all here for him. He shouldn't be nervous to come to us. He just needs to come."

His family said Louissant's sister spoke to him early Sunday morning and there was no indication anything was wrong. This is the longest he has ever been gone without talking to anyone in his family.

"He would have called someone," Ana Louissaint, George Louissant's mother, said. "He would've called someone to pick him up. He has nobody here except for his roommate that I know."

On Monday, George Louissaint Sr. sent a message through the media directed to his son:

George, we love you. We miss you. Your mother has been crying since Sunday morning. You last spoke to Jennifer around 2 in the morning and your phone was going dead and you were going to try to get home. And that never materialized, 'cause you didn’t make it home and we have been searching for you."

His family doesn’t think he ran away.

His family said his apartment is less than a mile away from where the party was held, and it's just how he left it -- with money sitting on the dresser. 

"He is always with his friends. He wouldn’t go places by himself because we taught him always be with a crowd of people that you can trust," his father said.

Neither Fleming nor his roommate have heard from him. Fleming said she was on the phone with him the night before Louissaint disappeared, but the call dropped.

"His friend was, like, 'We can't find him anymore.' So they started calling me and I started trying to find him. You know, I can't do much from Mobile, so I was just trying to do anything I could," Fleming said. "It's been really scary and stressful because I don't know where he could be. I haven't heard from him. I haven't talked to him. He doesn't have my phone number because I got a new number recently and it's just a lot. It's just been a lot of nerves going all over the place."

Fleming added that it's unlike her boyfriend to be distant, especially for this long. She told News4Jax that she believes he's still alive and continues to hold out hope that he will be found safe.

"I just hope, like, he's OK. I just want him to come home. I just need him to come home. I love you, if you're watching this," Fleming said.

Louissaint was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and khaki pants. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call university police at 904-620-2800, or the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.

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