UPDATE: According to a Clarkstown Police Department Facebook post made on November 22, Derek has been located and is safe. Dateline has reached out to the family who confirmed Derek is home.
It’s been one week since 26-year-old Derek Appiah was last seen along North Pascack Road in Nanuet, New York – a town about 40 minutes north of New York City.
Derek vanished after leaving home on Monday, November 14, 2022. He was headed to work at Costco for a shift that began at 6:00 p.m.
Derek’s older sister, Sally Hunter, told Dateline that the Costco Derek works at is less than a ten-minute walk from the family home, where Derek has been living with their parents.
“Around 5:50, my dad reminded [Derek] that he was going to be late for work if he didn't leave,” Sally told Dateline. “So he went and grabbed his reflector vest and he left the house for work.”
According to Sally, Derek typically works an evening shift from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. “He was supposed to be home later on in the evening,” she said. “It is not uncommon for them to ask him if he can stay an additional hour or whatever to help, you know, putting the store back together.”
As a result, Sally said, when Derek didn’t return right after his shift ended, her parents didn’t really think anything was wrong. “So my parents went to sleep,” Sally said. “And then the next morning when they woke up they realized he never came home.”
Derek’s family immediately tried to contact his co-workers. “They reached out to a friend that works at the store with him,” Sally told Dateline. “And she called into work and contacted the manager and was told that Derek never showed up for a shift.”
Derek hasn’t been seen or heard from since. “So he left the house to go to work, but never actually got to work,” Sally said. Sally told Dateline that it is out of character for Derek to miss work and that he has never gone away without contacting his family before.
Sally said that there has been no activity on Derek’s cellphone or bank accounts and that none of Derek’s personal items have been recovered. “At that point, they, of course, tried to call his cellphone,” Sally said. “That goes straight to voicemail.” She added that they aren’t sure if he fully charged his phone before he left the house.
Sally also noted that Derek left the home without a jacket. With temperatures in the 30s over the past week, this is something that makes her worried for his well-being.
“We've checked his social media. We've reached out to other family members,” Sally said. “Nobody's seen or heard from him.”
The Appiah family reported Derek as a missing person to the Clarkstown Police Department on Tuesday, November 15.
As of this morning – a week after Derek was last seen – the family has received no updates in Derek’s case.
Dateline reached out to the Clarkstown Police Department, but has not yet received a response.
In the meantime, the family has created flyers for Derek that have been posted around town.
Sally, who lives out of state, drove to New York on Friday to help look for her brother. She said that she has retraced her brother’s path from the family home to Costco several times.
But the Appiahs have not found any clues.
Sally told Dateline that on Friday evening, five days after Derek disappeared, the family got a call from a woman who thought she saw someone matching Derek’s description walking near Townline Road in Nanuet. Sally told Dateline that Townline Road is not along the route Derek would have taken to get to his job at Costco.
It has not been confirmed if the woman actually saw Derek or not. “She may have seen him, she may have not, but we -- it was the only possible lead we had,” Sally said. “So we did go out there and search.” The family did not find anything near Townline Road, either.
Sally describes her younger brother as a reserved and observant person. “He's the person that's kinda sitting on the side observing everything that's going on,” she said. “He's really funny when you get to talk to him.” She added that Derek “likes to play his video games,” and then, with a laugh, said, “Can't forget that.” Sally also told Dateline that Derek was working with a tutor to become an Information Security Analyst.
Sally thinks because Derek is more on the quiet side, he would not be the first person to ask for help. “So if he's out there, the chances that he's gonna approach and actually ask for help -- it's probably not likely,” Sally said. “So you just have to think of that person that's kind of sitting off by themselves, that's my brother. That's what I would expect that you're gonna see if you spot him anywhere.”
Derek is a youth leader at the family’s church and an aspiring pastor. Sally said Derek is “very active in our church” and that he preaches and “helps to lead the youth ministry.” Sally thinks that her brother might seek solace at a church.
“I wouldn't be surprised if my brother would show up at a church somewhere,” Sally said. She asked that if anyone is going to services or church to please keep an eye out for Derek. “That's where I would expect to find my brother.”
Derek is described as 5’11” tall, 180 lbs., with brown eyes and black hair. He was last seen wearing a navy blue long-sleeved shirt, khaki pants and black sneakers. He also had his reflector vest with him that he would wear while collecting shopping carts at Costco.
Anyone with information on Derek’s whereabouts should call Clarkstown Police Department at (845) 639-2000 or email Sally Hunter at S_berkoh@yahoo.com.