SHU student, New Jersey native still missing one month later

Middletown Police Department

Middletown Police Department

Jan. 13 marked one month since senior accounting major, John Fernandez, went missing.

The investigation into the whereabouts of Fernandez, a commuter from Middletown, N.J., is still ongoing, according to Middletown Police Deputy Chief Stephen Dollinger.

Dollinger said that Fernandez was last seen on Dec. 12 at 10:50 p.m. He was first reported missing to the Hazlet Township Police Department (HTPD), but the case was passed to the Middletown Police on Dec. 13.

Fernandez’s cell phone was found near Natco Lake in Hazlet, which led to a police search of the lake and surrounding area. According to Dollinger, the police searched both sides of Natco Lake
and the woods surrounding it. Police ATVs were utilized during the search, along with a Monmouth County Sheriff’s department helicopter and the police K9 unit. In addition, the New Jersey State Police deployed a dive team to search the lake.

“His investigation is still pending; he is still missing,” Dollinger said. “At this point, we’re waiting for him to turn up.”

Family and friends were also actively searching alongside the police. Rachael Tucker, a sophomore occupational therapy major, is a friend of Fernandez and helped his family search with a group of Fernandez’s Seton Hall friends. Tucker and others call Fernandez Japes.

“When my friend invited me to go help search for Japes I was hoping that we would find something that would lead us to him,” Tucker said in an email. “We searched areas that were near his house and looked for more clues as to where he could be, but as the searches went on I became more afraid and doubtful that we would find him, or any traces of him.”

Tucker said she was introduced to Fernandez by a mutual friend and would see him in the Commuter Lounge during League of Legends night, which is a part of Seton Hall’s Gaming Sector. She and others said she knows Fernandez as Japes.

“I think his role at Seton Hall was definitely to make those around him feel the best. He never cared what people thought of him, and he lived his own life,” Tucker said.

Another friend of Fernandez that helped with the search was Esad Metjahic, a senior history major. “The week he went missing I spent a few days searching for him in his hometown with some friends and his family,” Metjahic said. “Obviously I was hoping I would find him, or at least a trace of him, but no such luck. When I was actively searching, I felt a lot of hope that I’d stumble onto something, but a lot of anxiety and fear as well that I wouldn’t.” Metjahic described Fernandez as a core member of their friend group and Seton Hall’s gaming community. Metjahic stated that he and Fernandez became friends due to a conversation about the video game League of Legends that they both played and that both of them built the roots that started the League of Legends night.

“I really don’t know how much more the campus community could have done or can do in this situation, other than staying strong in their support for him, his family, and his friends that
miss him and care about him,” Metjahic said. “At this point I don’t know what more we can do than remember he’s still out there somewhere, and keep him in our hearts and minds.” Tucker said that a prayer service would be a nice gesture towards Fernandez’s family, who she said is religious.

Ashley Turner can be reached at

Author: Ashley Turner

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for reporting on this. I heard about this through friends and was very shocked to see that Seton Hall made no effort in notifying the SHU community.

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