Barbara and Ted Kazmierczak, of South Gibson, believe their son is in the Scranton area.
Chris Barcia’s photo rests on a living room table inside his aunt’s Scott Township home. He left his home on March 26, leaving a note to say that he would be fine.Jason Riedmiller photos / For Go lackawanna
The last time Barbara Kazmierczak saw her son, Chris Barcia, he had just given her a fresh bowl of popcorn and a cold drink as the family gathered to watch “House Hunters International” on HGTV.
Minutes later, Barcia, 15, a freshman at Mountain View High School, was quietly picked up from his South Gibson home, his parents believe.
That was three weeks ago.
“I dozed off, woke up literally 10 minutes later, and he was gone,” his mother, Barbara Kazmierczak, 41, of South Gibson, said.
Barbara and her husband, Ted, 45, said they worry about their son’s well-being. The young man had gone through drug rehabilitation programs at Clear Brook Lodge twice, the most recent treatment ending in January.
“We’re terrified. He was newly sober, and I don’t know if he’s with sober friends or friends that are using,” Mrs. Kazmierczak said.
Since his disappearance, the Kazmierczaks have worked with Pennsylvania State Police in Gibson, Susquehanna County, to locate him. They have distributed signs around Scranton and in neighboring boroughs like Dunmore and throughout the Abingtons. They’ve also distributed a poster on Facebook.
They believe Barcia has been in the Scranton area in the last few weeks.
“He was seen last week at the McDonald’s in South Side on video. I know he’s there,” Mrs. Kazmierczak said of a tip received Tuesday, April 12. “I’ve heard from people that tell me he’s safe in Scranton, but they won’t tell me where he is.
“Is he desperate? Desperate kids do desperate things,” she added.
“It’s hard for me to picture that there’s a 15-year-old on his own,” Mr. Kazmierczak said.
The Kazmierczaks said that social networking opened new opportunities for Barcia to run away from home.
“He got a ride in Susquehanna County. He didn’t hitchhike. We’re in the middle of nowhere,” Mrs. Kazmierczak said. “Facebook allowed him to chat with other people and cry for help. That opened up a whole new world of possibilities and contacts.”
Barcia has since deleted his Facebook account, Mrs. Kazmierczak said.
Meanwhile, his younger siblings, Andrew, 8, and Sophia, 5, have been left to wonder where the runaway teen is. The family prays for his return each evening with Andrew, and Sophia had hoped her brother would be able to share birthday cake with her on Wednesday.
The Kazmierczaks encourage other parents to know their children’s social networking passwords and review their phone records including text messages to learn what they’re up to.
“Parents are the last to know because we’re the first to day that it can’t be,” Mrs. Kazmierczak said.
“It seems like too many parents have checked out with their kids,” Mr. Kazmierczak said.
While Barcia’s case is relatively new, Scranton police continue their search for Wyoming resident Brittany Burgess, 15, who left a Hill Section home through a second story window on Dec. 24, 2010.
Burgess, a student at Wyoming Area High School, is 5’4”, approximately 110 pounds, and has brown hair, brown eyes and both ears pierced.
She is known to have friends in the Wyoming and Pittston areas of Luzerne County, and may be in the company of an adult male traveling to New York City. Burgess may use the alias last name Ide, according to a press release issued last week.
Scranton Police Juvenile Supervisor Nelson Ancherani said many leads on her whereabouts have run cold.
“We’re getting dead end stuff at this point,” Ancherani said. “She’s hiding from us.”
Chris Barcia, 15, of South Gibson, was last seen by family on March 26. He has brown hair, brown eyes, and braces. He is 5’7” and weighs approximately 125 pounds. Family said the last time they saw him, he was wearing skinny black jeans, black shoes, and a green, white and black Burton snowboarding jacket. Information on Barcia should be sent to the Pennsylvania State Police in Gibson at (570) 465-3154 or 1-800-506-0372.
Brittany Burgess, 15, of Scranton, was last seen on Dec. 24, 2010. She left a home on North Irving Avenue in Scranton through a second floor window. She has brown hair and brown eyes and both ears pierced. She is 5’4”, 110 pounds and may be using the last name Ide.
To report information on any missing child, call 911 or the Scranton Police Department dispatcher at (570) 348-4141 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
According to Scranton Police Lt. Leonard Namiotka, the department handled the following number of missing juvenile cases in previous years:
2008: 137 missing juveniles
2011, to date: 41.
Cases in the city remain open until children are returned home and Scranton police confirm their whereabouts.
“We can’t just say that we took the report and we’re done,” Namiotka said of missing juvenile cases. “If they’re kids, we need to help them out.”