Search coordinator fears the worst in case of missing gay UH student.
By Megan Wadding
An Vinh Nguyen, a 26-year-old University of Houston student and a member of Houston’s LGBTQ community, has been missing since March 31.
Nguyen, who worked part-time as an optician, didn’t show up for his shift at Ella Eyes in Tomball on April 1, according to Bobby Johnson, his friend and co-worker.
The night before, Nguyen had dinner at Johnson’s home in Willowbrook. Johnson said Nguyen left around 10:30 p.m. to finish a paper for school, but never arrived home.
According to news reports, the last text message from Nguyen’s cell phone was sent to an unidentified man who was in Houston on business from New York. Nguyen’s credit card and EZ Pass were last used on March 30.
Since Nguyen’s disappearance, volunteers from Texas Equusearch, a nonprofit search and rescue group, have been scouring wooded areas in northwest Harris County identified by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’ve searched multiple areas so far, but at this point, we’ve found nothing,” Texas Equusearch’s Frank Black told OutSmart last week. “I’m not sure who [the sheriff’s office] is looking at, but I think somebody did something to him.”
Fliers have also been posted near gay bars in Montrose seeking information about Nguyen.
The sheriff’s office did recover Nguyen’s orange 2016 Jeep Renegade and searched the vehicle for evidence, but sheriff’s officials have been tight-lipped about their investigation and did not reveal where the vehicle was found. A representative from the sheriff’s office told OutSmart that there was no new information available in the case.
The search for Nguyen has focused on a three- to five-square-mile area near FM 1960 and the Hardy Toll Road, with the command center being the Grace Family Baptist Church, according to news reports.
Black said the search party has typically consisted of 20 to 30 volunteers. He also said sheriff’s officials were “working very hard and long hours” on the case.
“We actually even had deputies out there searching the other day,” Black said. “They had street clothes on and were in the woods with us. It’s not very often that you find that. We want to find this guy.”
Diana Ngo, Nguyen’s friend, former boss, and owner of the Ella Eyes Memorial Park location, told OutSmart she was in disbelief about his disappearance.
“[Nguyen] is just a very lively young man,” Ngo said. “He’s such a good guy, and very friendly, and he is really good at what he does. You don’t hear things like this. It’s a big shock.”
Nguyen had worked alongside Ngo at the Memorial Park location for about a year and a half until the end of December, when he transferred to the Tomball location to work part-time due to his school schedule.
“When you’re working with people every day, you develop a close relationship,” Ngo said. “We are all concerned about him. I feel numb. I don’t even know what to say. It hasn’t been easy.”
Nguyen has black hair, brown eyes, and is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds.
Officials ask anyone with information about Nguyen’s whereabouts to contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at 713-755-7427, Crime Stoppers at 713-755-7427, or Texas EquuSearch at 281-309-9500.