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Family reels with discovery of shoe

Patrick Kycia's family first struggled with scant news Monday and then got more than they wanted about the missing college student. Kycia's stepfather Brian Foley said Monday night family and friends of the 19-year-old were distressed that a shoe...

Patrick Kycia's family first struggled with scant news Monday and then got more than they wanted about the missing college student.

Kycia's stepfather Brian Foley said Monday night family and friends of the 19-year-old were distressed that a shoe matching the description of those Kycia was wearing when last seen was found floating in the Red River.

"We're still trying to hold out hope he lost his shoes there," Foley said. "We can't put too many good scenarios on it. Our spirits took a big blow, but we're still trying to hold out hope."

Foley said he was worried the discovery could confirm suspicions he's had since he first heard Kycia was missing.

"That river has been my biggest fear. For some reason, it's been in my head the whole time," he said.


Kycia's mother, Rose Foley, took the news hard, her husband said.

Julian Kycia, the college sophomore's father, said he is trying to stay positive despite the discovery of the shoe.

"It does alarm me, of course," he said. "I'm definitely concerned. I'm concerned about everything right now."

Kycia's parents spent most of Monday being interviewed by reporters as interest grew in the disappearance of their son, the second of three children they had before divorcing in 1996.

"Today was media day," Julian Kycia said by phone as he arrived at his Twin Cities home. "I just pulled into my house and there's a satellite truck in my driveway."

Julian Kycia left Moorhead about 3 p.m., returning to Ramsey, Minn., to help set up a Web site with information about his son and establish a fund to collect donations for the search.

While the search fund is still in the works, the Web site - www.findpatrick.com - went online Monday evening.

Kycia said he's still optimistic, pleased that police had reports of witnesses who may have seen his son near the Concordia College campus about 4 a.m. Friday.


Still, he has no idea how he will explain the situation to Patrick's 15-year-old brother.

"I don't even know what I'm going to say to him," he said.

As his parents spread the word on his younger brother's disappearance, 22-year-old Adam Kycia spent the day passing out fliers at Fargo businesses with about eight friends from the Twin Cities.

He's trying to focus on what he can do, not what happened.

"I don't even let it go through my head anymore," he said.

Brian Foley, who married Rose seven years ago, said his wife held up well Monday until the shoe was found.

"It's hard to eat. It's hard to sleep," Rose Foley said Monday afternoon. "You try not to think of too many personal fond memories."

When a family member goes missing, the nebulous nature of the suffering is difficult, said Erin Bruno, lead case manager for the National Center for Missing Adults.


"Not knowing is going to be the hardest thing they have ever experienced," she said. "It's a very different kind of grief. It's very ambiguous. We see it break apart families."

Eric Halverson, Kycia's uncle, agreed the lack of information is taking a painful toll on the family.

"You want closure, whether it's good or bad," he said.

Bruno said while there are about 47,000 missing adults in the United States, the majority of cases of missing adults have happy endings.

"Adults do have the right to walk away," she said. "We tell families to try not to assume anything."

Rose Foley said it is tough to avoid assumptions.

"It's pretty difficult to assume Pat would have walked out of Moorhead without ID," she said. "But if he didn't do that, he'd be there somewhere."

Family and friends described Kycia as quiet and studious, eager to debate and an avid video game player.


Roommate Travis Fanum said Kycia was not involved in any campus groups, had no girlfriend and liked to hang out with friends. Lately Kycia has played the newest Madden football game a lot.

His mother said Kycia decided at the beginning of the school year - after lengthy consideration - that he wanted to study pharmacy.

She last talked to him on Wednesday about 9 p.m. He was trying to decide what to do with the portion of his financial aid for room and board and was excited about his new job at Domino's.

Rose Foley said she hopes the search for her son will expand this week.

His father is organizing a group of family and friends in the Twin Cities to help with the search and hopes to be back here later this week.

"Right now, I feel a little guilty because I'm not there searching for him," he said. "I'm just trying to stay focused on what I can do best to help Patrick."

Halverson said Kycia's mother probably summed up the situation best Monday when she told him this:

"At this point, the bad news is we haven't found him and the good news is we haven't found him."


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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