This week marks the four-month anniversary since Andre Gray suddenly disappeared — prompting some activists and members of the local LGBT community to renew their calls for help finding him.
His disappearance has puzzled his family and police, who are still investigating but have yet to make any arrests in the case, according to police spokeswoman Sonya Toler.
His mother, Victoria Gray-Tillman, found his apartment ransacked last October after he didn't return her phone calls. Inside, she found blood, bleach and duct tape, and noticed that his car and other items from the apartment were missing. (The car was later found, partially burned, on the North Side.)
Gray was out to his friends and family, and was set to start a job at Project Silk,
a local organization that does outreach predominantly among minorities in the local LGBT community. "He was very much like a father figure to lot of people,” says Nayck Feliz, a volunteer and former associate director of Silk. "He wanted to help out even if he wasn’t paid."
Activist and blogger Sue Kerr has been working with Gray's family to get the word out and to raise money to reward anyone who comes forward with information. Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000, but Kerr says that might not be enough to encourage people to come forward, which is part of the reason she helped launch a crowdfunding site
. (Contributions can also be made via the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, or by dropping a check at any PNC branch made out to the "Andre Gray Missing Person Fund.")
Gray-Tillman says her son "was very close, very family oriented,” and the only reason she could imagine someone wanting to hurt him was out of "jealously and greed." She says Gray recently received a several thousand dollar settlement from his landlord after falling off a porch and he wasn't shy about taking friends out to dinner or buying things for them.
Over the past four months, Gray-Tillman's sense of what it would mean to get closure has changed. "I’m always hopeful he’s alive, but it being four months, closure for me would be to see his hand." It's the site of his first tattoo — a strawberry filled with his mother's name.
Anyone with information about Andre's disappearance can call 911 or the Pittsburgh Police Missing Persons Unit at 412-323-7141.