CHELSEA — A distraught Chelsea family is desperate to find a missing autistic man who disappeared late last month.
Andrew Rivera, 34, went missing on Sept. 29 after leaving the West 16th Street home he shares with his father to go for a walk, cops said.
Since then, his family has spent $700 on fliers and dozens of hours searching for leads in the hope of finding him, but so far they have had no success.
Rivera's father, Andy Rivera Sr., said that his son left the house with about $40 early on the morning of Sept. 29, intending to go to church and then for a walk.
The walks were normal: For years, Rivera has wandered the streets of the city, often dropping in on churches for mass, or picking up takeout menus from restaurants, his father said.
"The menus were how I knew where he went," the elder Rivera told DNAinfo New York. "He likes to walk around. He was always infatuated with the lights of the city and Times Square, even as a kid."
Rivera described his son as a "real good kid," who's "like a teddy bear," but also someone who has difficulty with social interactions: He typically speaks in two-to-three-word sentences and avoids eye contact, and he has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, his father said.
The younger Rivera stands 5-foot-7 and weighs about 220 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black jacket, police said.
Rivera once disappeared for a night in 2003, but he was found the next morning at the Church of the Holy Name on the Upper West Side, his father said.
"We tried so hard for him to take a cellphone wherever he goes after that, but he refuses," said the elder Rivera, 62.
Rivera, who's lived in the neighborhood for 45 years, has had to take time off from his job at a moving company to look for his son. The family has put up hundreds of fliers and is contacting media outlets in the hopes of getting the younger Rivera's picture on TV.
"This is what you see on TV," Rivera said, "and you hope to God it never happens to you."
Anyone with information about Andrew Rivera's whereabouts is asked to contact the NYPD's 10th Precinct Detective Squad at (212) 741-8245 or the Rivera Family at (917) 749-5062.