NYPD, Philly cops join search for missing NJ teen Nick Pratico
HAMILTON (Mercer) — Police in three states are on the lookout for an 18-year-old college student who seems to have vanished after visiting the Mercer County College campus eight days ago.
Nick Pratico was last seen shortly after 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at the school, where a security camera captured images of him.
Since then, his relatives and police have been unable to find out where he could have gone to.
“We don’t have enough information to call it suspicious right now,” Detective Sgt. Brian Shroeder said Thursday. “We don’t know what to make of it right now ... It’s a straight-up missing persons case at the moment.”
Shroeder said police know of no disagreements Pratico may have been having and added that there was no known drug use or psychological issues.
He had a driver's license but no car.
Pratico graduated in the spring from Notre Dame High School, where he played sports and participated in the performing arts. He was taking some classes at the community college, waiting for his spring semester start at the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan.
Police say the Pratico family is “close-knit” and that Pratico had always stayed in touch with them.
Shroeder says police in Philadelphia and New York City have been helping with the search. NYPD officials accessed a homeless shelter database to see whether Pratico had checked into one. Patrol cars in the city also have his picture.
“We’ve been unable to verify any location for him,” Shroeder said Thursday. “We’ve had tips; we've had some leads. They have not taken us anywhere.”
Father Jason Parzynski, the chaplain at Notre Dame High School, believes Pratico may have just run away, although he couldn’t think of a reason why. Pratico had not run away before, police said.
Parzynski, who spoke on behalf of the family during a police news conference Thursday, said Pratico was not one to stress out about life. He described him as talented, confident and laid back.
Despite “an impulsive side,” Parzynski says it was “peculiar” and “unlike” Pratico to disappear without a word.
In the event Pratico did just run away, Parzynski encouraged him to call his family and return home.
“The family is very concerned,” he said. “His grandmother, in particular, has been overly distraught by this as well as countless friends of his would like to know that he is fine and that he is safe.”
Police ask anyone with information about Pratico’s whereabouts to call 609-581-4000.
Dan Alexander contributed to this report. Press conference video footage by Brian McCarthy
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.