Mom of missing Seton Hall student pleads with son: ‘Let us know you’re OK’

‘I have lost my scuba buddy.’

‘I have lost my scuba buddy.’

By Ninia Fernandez

Ninia Fernandez’s son John – known as JP or Japes – vanished without a trace on December 13, 2015. He left a suicide note but no body has been found despite search efforts by police, the family, and volunteers. The police have made a decision to end the search until new evidence emerges, according to the family. Not Ninia. She vowed to look for her son and will “never give up, never say goodbye.” She writes this letter pleading with him to communicate that he’s OK.

Hi JP,

Today is the 75th day since you have left home. I am praying that I will not run out of space on the wall for my counting sticks before you decide to come back home. Your sisters have been sleeping in the living room waiting for you.

You know 75 days are not easy for me to carry day by day. No one can fill the void in our lives except you. I haven’t stopped crying. I think I filled a gallon already. I have learned to define sleep as four hours or less. I also have deleted the word ‘rest’ from my vocabulary. I also have been in so many adventures outside of my comfort zone looking for you, day and night. Stepping out of the woods with thorns on your body, not fun at all, but if that’s what it takes to find you, I will do it every single day until I find you.

I have promised to myself not to do these things until you come back:

1. I will not scuba dive. I have lost my scuba buddy. I will never forget our last dive when you biked underwater and how you came close to the corals. National Geographic material was how you described the reef that we went to.

2. I will not cook your favorite ramen until you show up at the dinner table. I am so sorry that I did not cook it for you the day before you left.

3. I will not prepare any amazing races Christmas morning. I have tried my best to figure out your clues and I have come to a conclusion that you are really smarter than me.

4. I will not eat grapes anymore. I agree with your theory that you cannot just eat one grape. I end up crying each time I see grapes because it reminds me of our happy moments when we tease you about that one grape.

I miss how you just simply give me a hug when I cry. I need you to give me a big hug right now. The way you comfort me with your words, and your hug is something I will not forget. I will probably feel better if you would just give me a sign that you are OK. You can do so by reading your email. Your password is what you have given us the day you left.

The other day, somebody tried to access your Facebook account. I got text messages on your phone and an email notification. I hope it is you and not someone trying to hack your account. At that moment I jumped for joy. The expression on your Papa’s face was a “Kodak” moment. We knew you were alive. I am really praying that it was you and not someone who is giving us false hopes.

We have been through a lot already. Please give me another sign that I could hold on to. I will be overjoyed if you could just send me a short text. I would love for you to go home. Don’t be scared. Everything is taken care of. Nothing can overwhelm our love for you. However, if you are not ready yet, I understand, just let me know you are OK.

Your Papa and I will not stop looking for you until we die. We simply refuse to give up and not say goodbye. I wish I could bring back the hands of time and go back to the day before you left. I will hug you and would not let you go. Please bring back the joy in my life. We miss you so much.

If I had to choose between loving you and breathing, I would use my last breath to tell you I love you. Take care of yourself and remember what I told you that Mom will always be mom, no matter what.

Love always,
Mama and Papa

Ninia (far right) with children, from left: John, Cindy, Jonah and Kelly after a game of paintball.

Ninia (far right) with children, from left: John, Cindy, Jonah and Kelly after a game of paintball.

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