SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Nearly three years ago, Gordon Turner disappeared after a family visit.
His sister said he left not in the best of terms. It turned out that day was the last anyone has seen or heard from him.
“We haven’t heard from him in so long and the last I knew he was homeless again,” said his sister Jennie Shaw.
It was December of 2019 and their father had just died.
“My daughter went to Salt Lake,” Shaw recalled. “At the time, he was living in an apartment and was trying to get his life together. So, she went up and got him.”
Turner returned to Salt Lake City on Trax. It was the last time his family saw him.
Shaw said her brother has battled his own demons and alcohol has been his downfall.
“He’s always tried to straighten up his life and get on his feet and become sober,” Shaw said. “It hasn’t been easy for him.”
Shaw suspects her 60-year-old brother may now be living on the streets in Salt Lake, and they are desperate to find him.
The executive director of the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake understood what the family is going through. He said it is not a lost cause.
“”Yes, they can (be found),” Chris Croswhite with the mission said. “In many, many cases they can (be found).”
However, he said it is not easy. Croswhite explained how often times a person chooses to disappear.
“Sometimes our homeless friend has so much personal shame in their life,” Croswhite said. “We call that toxic shame that our homeless friends cannot face their loved ones because of so much personal shame and anxiety they have in their life.”
At the rescue mission, Croswhite said they attempt to help the homeless overcome those weaknesses and perhaps reunite them with families.
But Turner’s family also understands he may be dead., though they hope that is not the case.
That is why they continue to search the streets of Salt Lake in hopes they run into him.
“I want to tell him that I love him, and he’s got other brothers that love him,” Shaw said. “We miss him and just want to know that he’s okay.”
But there’s roadblocks at homeless shelters. Croswhite said they must respect the privacy of the homeless and follow HIPA guidelines. He said they can act as a middleman if a family notifies them of a missing loved one. He said if they spot the person at the shelter, they will talk to him or her and inform them of their family member. If the missing person wants to meet with the family, Croswhite said they will make arrangements for a meeting.
Croswhite noted that the rescue mission does have public services that the family can attend. He said it gives the family an opportunity to see if their missing loved one is in attendance.