MILWAUKEE -- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee police on Monday, Feb. 17 offered an update on the disappearance of UWM freshman Sean Baek -- and disputed posts on social media suggesting he was the victim of foul play.
Baek, 18, disappeared in the early hours of Friday, Feb. 14.
Police said an investigation revealed Baek and another student were using LSD, and the other student had a bad reaction shortly before Baek ran out of the Cambridge Commons residence hall on Cambridge Avenue at 1:25 a.m. A witness saw someone running toward the riverbank near the residence hall at roughly that same time. Meanwhile, Baek sent a text to a family member at 1:20 a.m., stating: "I love you guys. I am sorry," police revealed.
"Yes, our son made a horrible choice, but he did not go out and run into the river," said Kristin Erickson, Baek's mother. "I don't believe that for one second. He had too much to live for to want to die."
Erickson said the "I am sorry" text was sent to Baek's father, and Erickson believes Baek was trying to explain that he screwed up, not that he was suicidal.
UWM police said they did not previously reveal information about the drug use because they did not want Baek or anyone else with information to fear getting into trouble. They said they wanted to share more Monday "because we feel it is important that concerned members of the campus and wider community are not misled or diverted by rumors not supported by information gathered by police."
"What his roommate told me, who was the third person with the group who was sober, was that he looked visibly scared that his friend had been harmed, or that there would be any kind of legal trouble," said Matthew Mandli, who said he and Baek grew up together in McFarland, and attended UWM together last semester.
According to police, the social media posts suggested Baek was abducted, and taken to the Chicago area. Baek's mother shared on social media that she saw a psychic who told her this. Police noted, "It is important for the public and our campus community to understand that as of right now, the police have received no information from any witnesses to this effect."
"Everyone here, we're doing everything we can to find you, and you're not going to be in any trouble," said Mandli. "We just want you back."
UWM police said they were working with Milwaukee police and the Milwaukee Fire Department in searching the neighborhood and along the Milwaukee River.
At the time of his disappearance, Baek was wearing a Milwaukee Bucks cap, a maroon, white, and dark-colored shirt, and white shoes. He stands 5'10" tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has Type 1 diabetes, is insulin-dependent, and needs medication regularly.
Anyone with information was asked to contact UWM police at 414-229-4627 or 414-935-7211.