At 3:30 a.m. on May 21, Andy Neiman was deeply upset. He begged his sister Emily Asher Abramson to take him to the MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie. They arrived an hour later and Neiman was promised a bed in the psychiatric unit by 4 p.m. that afternoon. At 9 p.m. Andy was still waiting in the ER. At that time, he was released from the hospital and has not been seen since.
At 9:30 p.m. this Friday evening, Poughkeepsie Town Police called Emily and her husband Simon Abramson at their High Falls home to tell them Andy was gone. He was wearing blue / green hospital gowns and slippers. He took no money, glasses, shoes, phone or ID.
Emily and Simon learned that a patrol car is said to be looking for Andy. The next day, they alerted every other police force they could think of: the town and city of Poughkeepsie, New York State soldiers, Dutchess and Ulster County sheriffs. Poughkeepsie Town Detective Brad Cookinham was assigned on Tuesday and scent sniffer dogs were deployed later in the week.
Meanwhile, Andy Neiman’s friends, family and strangers have gathered. More than 1900 people joined the Find Andy’s Facebook group and sprinkled with prayers, good wishes and hopeful offerings. Volunteers distributed and posted flyers throughout Poughkeepsie and several neighboring towns. Four hundred and fifty people, including Broadway artists, raised over $ 40,000 on GoFundMe to hire private detectives.
Who is this 48-year-old man from Saint-Louis who aroused so much compassion? The flyers describe him as 5’10 “, 165 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Andy Neiman is a songwriter, playwright and performer,” a comedian with a Shakespearean bent, “says his younger sister Emily. talent and charm are evident on his Youtube channel. A passionate father of an eight-year-old daughter, Andy is a spiritual man whose hobbies are baking pies and making cocktails. He’s been battling bipolar disorder since 1995. His brother and sometimes collaborator, New York-based David Neiman, says the mind-altering drug Seroquel stabilized Andy for 13 years, until he lost its effectiveness. Higher doses did not help.
The Neiman siblings are close. David says Andy told him he suffered from physical pain after a vasectomy two years ago. He began to describe his life as a torture chamber and the rigors of the pandemic made things even more difficult. Last May, he wrote a suicide note. About nine weeks ago, he overdosed, saying he wanted the old Andy to die so a new Andy could be born. His siblings embarked on an odyssey across the country to help him. They took him to Tucson, AZ, Austin, TX, Lancaster, PA and more, seeking hospital treatment. They thought settling in Pennsylvania might be the solution, but he got out after three days and went to his sister Emily’s High Falls. But just hours after arriving, his psychosis seemed to be mounting and he pleaded for immediate relief. As he did not get him to the hospital, he got lost again, this time on the night of Poughkeepsie, destination unknown.
Emily is fortunate to have friends with logistics and search and rescue skills. On the cold and rainy Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, they conducted a search of 50 people in the Poughkeepsie area. The volunteers, aided by rescue dogs, deployed to the surrounding woods, abandoned buildings and shelters. They knocked on the doors of churches and temples, covering 400 acres. The next day, a woman thought she saw Andy by the side of the road in Newburgh. Teachers at Newburgh Free Academy North, where Emily teaches Spanish, have started distributing and publishing flyers. When the weather cleared a few days later, private investigators hired by the family deployed drones to scan the woods and rivers in the area.
Meanwhile, Simon ran a hotline from their home and sifted through tips. Strangers submitted photos of the “possible Andys”. A rare comic relief was a snapshot of a skinny, naked ladle escaping from a private swimming pool in northern New Jersey – another “fake Andy.” In recent days, Andy’s disappearance has made national news. Andy Cohen, the Bravo and Sirius XM radio host who has known Neiman from high school in St. Louis, has publicly prayed for his safe return. The Today Show, ET and People Magazine cited his pleas.
Emily says the family is “in dire need of rejuvenation.” They are grateful to people like Michelle Norton, a 42-year-old health specialist. Although she has never met Andy or his relatives, the Kingston resident has been looking for Andy in Poughkeepsie almost daily since learning he was missing. Without being intimidated by the 90 degree temperature last weekend, she set up a table in Pulaski Park, then went to comb College Hill Park for the third time. For five hours, she showed Andy’s photo to park visitors, but no one remembered spotting him. Michelle has five siblings and is motivated by her belief that “there, but for the grace of God, go to me”. She says she’s not giving up.
Andy’s family can’t help but wonder how things could have been different if the hospital had found a room for Andy sooner. Asked for comment, the hospital released a statement, stating: “Although we cannot comment on a patient’s situation due to privacy laws, we share our concern for the well-being of each patient and his caregivers. “
The Newburgh Community Search and Rescue (COMMSAR), a group of volunteers, told them they were ready to search the nooks and crannies of Poughkeepsie again with dogs and professional gear, but were stymied by the lack of co-operation from the police.
Our appeals to the Poughkeepsie Town Police spokesperson for comment were not returned.
Those close to Andy want readers to know how bright a light he is; a sophisticated, intelligent and caring man whose brain chemistry has gone awry. Emily says that last Thursday, Andy’s birthday, was her hardest day. In this time of terrible uncertainty, she says it’s hard not to sink into deep grief. Andy’s brother David says he feeds off a vision of Andy being supported by a religious community, his brother on a spiritual journey whose Moses-like wanderings in the wilderness will be rewarded with rebirth that Andy so desperately wants.
If you think you are seeing Andy Neiman, please call the New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 800-346-3543.