Nearly a week has passed since anyone has seen or heard from 24-year-old John “Jack” Stein, and his worried family is pleading with the public to keep an eye out for the shaggy-haired surfer as they widen their search beyond Los Angeles County.
“He’s always in contact with us,” his mother Ann Norton told Dateline. “Especially if he’s in distress, he’d call. So for him not to call… that’s what worries us. It’s been six days.”
According to a press release issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Jack was last seen around 7:45 p.m. at his residence in the 3700 block of Kanan Road in the Agoura Hills area of L.A. County in California.
Jack’s mother, who lives in Minnesota, and his sister, who lives in Boston, are among family members who have traveled to California to help search for Jack. They told Dateline he suffers from depression and bipolar disorder and that the past month had been a hard one for Jack.
“He’s very social and loves to be around people, so this is very out of character for him,” his sister Zoë Kustritz told Dateline. “We’re just very worried something is going to happen to him.”
Jack graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in economics in Spring 2020 and had recently accepted a new job in Colorado.
“He was doing so well - graduating college during Covid, landing a new job,” Zoë said. “He was happy. And excited about moving to Colorado.”
She told Dateline that her brother didn’t have a cell phone or ID with him when he disappeared, but believes he could possibly be hitchhiking to his home state of Minnesota or Denver, Colorado or Salt Lake City, Utah - where he has friends. But no one has heard from him and there have been no sightings of him.
Aerial and ground searches have been conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but detectives tell the family they have hit dead ends on where to search.
Family members, friends and volunteers have scoured the woods and neighborhoods around Agoura Hills, Westlake, and Thousand Oaks, as well as Venice Beach and Malibu, searching shelters and homeless encampments. They’ve talked to hundreds of pedestrians and shared missing person posters with everyone they’ve come in contact with.
The family has created a Facebook group called “Help Find Jack Stein” with the goal of bringing in tips and information. Zoë told Dateline she has received tips which she has passed on to Detective Shannon Rincon, the lead detective on the case. Deputies were sent out to follow up on the tips, but they haven’t yielded anything.
Jack is described by his family as a kind, beautiful soul who is creative and loves to draw, but also athletic and loves to surf and snowboard.
“Anything with a board, he will ride,” Zoë said. “He loves all of that. And he would get on the board and he would just fly.”
Zoë and other family members are still in California doing everything they can to find Jack, never thinking this could ever happen to them.
“This is every family’s worst nightmare,” Zoë said. “You just never think it will happen to your own family.”
Zoë and their mother told Dateline they are just hoping someone will recognize Jack from the news coverage and contact the authorities with any tips that might be helpful.
“Just keep your eyes open for our boy,” his mother said. “He could be anywhere. We’re at a loss, but we’re doing everything we can. We need to find him.”
Jack is described as being 6’3” tall, weighs about 180 lbs., and has blue eyes and shaggy strawberry-blond hair. He has a tattoo of a sparrow on his upper right thigh and circle tattoos on his chest. He was last seen wearing a navy blue hooded sweatshirt with the words “Tommy Hilfiger” down the arm, black shorts, and gray Nike running shoes.
Anyone with information on Jack’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Missing Person Unit, Det. Shannon Rincon at (323) 890-5500.