Three hundred and eighty five days and nights have passed since Roma and Luda Gimelfarb last heard from their only son.
On Aug. 11, 2009, David Gimelfarb sent an e-mail to his parents to tell them he was going hiking in the rugged Rincón de la Vieja national park in Costa Rica’s northwest Guanacaste province. Gimelfarb, who was studying for his Ph.D. at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, Illinois, came to Costa Rica to hike and vacation before returning to his studies in the fall. Two days after arriving in Costa Rica on Aug. 9, Gimelfarb, who was staying at the nearby Hacienda Guachipelín, drove his rental car to the park’s entrance, and signed the park’s log. His parents have not heard from him since.
In the following months, National Police, the Costa Rican Red Cross, and David’s parents searched extensively in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park for any trace of David or his backpack, the only item he carried with him that day. But after months of searching, despite several alleged sightings, no official trace of David has been found.
But the Gimelfarbs will not give up hope. In an interview with The Tico Times Friday, they said they are convinced he is still alive and remains in Costa Rica, possibly roaming around Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula. They say sightings of David have been reported in a clockwise pattern in southern Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula.
According to the Gimlefarbs and an investigative group working with them to locate their son, there have been 18 sightings of David in Guanacaste which they say are credible.
In order to determine the reliability of the sightings, the Gimelfarbs say that witnesses have been asked a series of questions that only someone who has seen David could answer correctly.
But for David’s parents, the most significant circumstance giving them hope is the fact that his body was never found.
“The most important thing we know is that he was not found in the park (Rincón de la Vieja). He had to have walked out or exited some other way,” his mother Luda said. “That means he must still be in the area. He doesn’t have his passport so he couldn’t leave the country. We have to believe that he is still here, and that the people who are calling (claiming to have seen David) are telling us the truth.”
While the search for their only son continues, the Gimelfarbs, are also airing criticisms regarding the way in which missing persons cases are handled in Costa Rica. The Gimelfarbs, who recently returned to Costa Rica to pursue the investigation, claim they received little help from the U.S. Embassy, the National Police force, or the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) with their search. As an example of this, the Gimelfarbs say they were never notified by the OIJ when the case was closed several months ago.