By the end of Thursday, authorities said it's possible that David John Goeser, 22, a UCLA student , left town and they will have to re-evaluate their search strategy tonight.
Goeser's car was found Wednesday evening parked near a canyon on Los Liones Drive in Pacific Palisades.
Around 5 p.m. Thursday, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Andrew Smith said after interviewing Goeser's mother and observing the actions of their bloodhounds who searched the trails, they will make an evaluation tonight as to how they will move forward. Police are still on scene Thursday night in a scaled-back search group.
"We're very concerned about this guy and we want to find him," Smith said, noting a night time search with helicopters with infrared scanners, and a full day search using K-9 units, mounted units and off-road vehicles came up empty. "A couple of days of searching were fruitless. There's a possibility he left the area."
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s K9 unit and Valley Traffic off-road motor vehicles resumed the search Thursday morning, but had no luck, Borihanh said. The LAPD Mounted Unit will assist the search on smaller trails that have not been checked yet. Five or six mounted officers will join the search, reaching a total of twelve people currently searching for Goeser.
“We evaluated the car and it shows no signs of foul play,” said Bruce Borihanh, media relations for the Los Angeles Police Department on Thursday morning.
Hikers and homeless people have confirmed they have not seen Goeser, Borihanh said.
But a Pacific Palisades resident who lives near the canyon told Patch he "100 percent" saw Goeser around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Jeff V., who asked that his full last name not be used, told Patch he was ending his hike on the fire road when he saw Goeser about 150 yards from the beginning of the trail. Goeser was wearing jeans and a heavy sweater, and looked "in a melancholy state" and "disheveled, like he hadn't showered in two or three days," Jeff said.
"I hiked from about 6-8 p.m. and as I was re-entering civilization, I saw David," Jeff said. "I thought it was kind of weird because everyone I saw was wearing yoga pants or shorts, and i saw him and he was wearing dark blue jeans and a sweater, walking by himself at the beginning of the trail. I did a double take because that's not proper hiking attire and it was 8 p.m. Unfortunately, I didn't think too much about it, because to each his own."
When Jeff saw Goeser's picture on the news Thursday morning, he called police and was interviewed by an officer. Jeff believes Goeser is still in the canyon and there are other people who likely spotted him.
"I'm 100 percent sure that was him," Jeff said. "My assumption is that he's there."
Investigators believe Goeser could be in the trails.
“We have about over a dozen officers out here walking the trails,” Borihanh said.
The trails are interconnected and go “for miles,” even reaching Topanga Canyon and beyond, Borihanh said, adding they are accessible to hikers of all skill levels.
Goeser was last seen by his roommates Sunday morning in his Westwood apartment in the 1000 block of Roebling Avenue.
According to City News Service, Goeser is under a doctor's care and requires medication. When family members went to Goeser's apartment to check on him, they found his cellphone, ID and credit cards. They had not heard from him for a week. Mark Goeser, David's father, told KTLA it is "very concerning" that his son left his belongings at his apartment. Mark Goeser also told KTLA his son has been out of touch in recent months and has suffered from depression.
A Facebook page entitled "Find David Goeser" was created Wednesday for the missing student.
Goeser is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion. Goeser is an honors student majoring in English.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.