Jupiter family in turmoil as search for 21-year-old Navy sailor near Chicago ends

JUPITER — Officials have called off the search for Seamus Gray, a 21-year-old Navy sailor and South Florida man last seen leaving a St. Patrick's Day celebration near Chicago one week ago.

Gray texted a photo of himself, green beer in hand, to his mother on March 17, and she FaceTimed him from Jupiter to say "cheers." Five days later, Kerry Rodier Gray shared the same photo of him to Facebook, begging for information.

"Please be brave and come forward," she wrote. " … Where is my son? What did you do to him?"

Servers at the Ibiza bar in Waukegan, Illinois, told local authorities they asked Gray to leave the bar at about 1:30 a.m. on March 18 because he appeared to be drunk. He had 30 minutes to report back to Great Lakes Naval Base, about 5 miles south of the bar, but never did.

A surveillance camera recorded Gray walking alone in the direction of Lake Michigan at 1:40 a.m., still in the pink shirt he wore during his FaceTime with his mother. The search began about three days later and ended Friday after Waukegan Police Commander Scott Chastain said they "exhausted every effort" to find him.

Seamus Gray, pictured here at a bar in Waukegan, Illinois, on March 17, 2023, has been missing since March 18, 2023.
Seamus Gray, pictured here at a bar in Waukegan, Illinois, on March 17, 2023, has been missing since March 18, 2023.

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The days-long search saw 100 U.S. Navy personnel and members of the U.S. Coast Guard combing through miles of water, lakefront and woods, all without a trace of Gray.

His belongings remain in his room at the naval base, where he was an active-duty fireman recruit assigned to the Surface Warfare Engineering School. Gray played lacrosse at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale and graduated in 2020.

His mother wrote on Facebook that she spent Wednesday, exactly one month after Gray's 21st birthday, searching for his body in Waukegan dumpsters. Her son was willing to die serving his country, she wrote. Not "this way."

Waukegan Police said they will continue investigating Gray's disappearance and have asked that anyone with information call 847-360-9001.

Hannah Phillips is a journalist covering public safety and criminal justice at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at hphillips@pbpost.com.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Jupiter mother pleads for information: Navy son last seen leaving bar alone