New Clues in Search for Suri Hegde – Missing UWS Man with Dementia

Suryanarayan “Suri” Hegde.

By Joy Bergmann

Mary Healey last saw Suryanarayan “Suri” Hegde, her husband of 42 years, on Saturday evening around 7:00 p.m. when he left their apartment at 320 W. 83rd Street to take a stroll over to Zabar’s. “He’s a walker, he loves to walk,” she told WSR.

Suri, 78, also suffers from dementia. Mary says he’d never gone “missing, missing” before. “He’d always take a cab home if he walked too far.” When last seen, he was wearing a maroon puffer coat, not a black jacket as first reported, she said.

NYPD and the family are seeking the public’s help in locating Suri.

On Sunday morning, a clue arrived.

A man in Washington Heights called Mary. He’d found Suri’s bag in front of 638 W. 160th Street, between Riverside Drive and Fort Washington Avenue. Her “emergency contact” number had been written on the bag. Also in the bag: his iPhone and wallet with his ID and two credit cards. “Normally I can track him with ‘Find my iPhone,'” she said.

Without any identification on his person, the search mission has become even more challenging. “We’re calling hospitals asking about him,” Mary said. “But his name is so long and strange, people misspell it.” She says some hospital personnel tell her they have so many John Doe patients, they can’t locate him. She and their adult son will keep calling.

Dementia has been tough to navigate, she says. A physicist with 20 patents in his name, Suri had a long career at IBM Research focused on computing hardware and served as a professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. Born in India, he came to the U.S. in the late 1960’s to study at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Despite his reduced abilities, he remains a “very upbeat person” with no signs of depression, she said.

Mary says Suri can usually remember at least the month and year of his birth date — September 17, 1943 — and sometimes remembers his address. She remains hopeful he will be found soon. “I know when we get him back, he’ll say, ‘I saw so many places!'”

Please help us get the word out to find Suryanarayan “Suri” Hegde. He is an Indian man with a gray beard and gray hair, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 110 pounds.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.

NEWS | 9 comments | permalink
    1. Steevie says:

      I saw Suri many times in Jake’s Dilemma, the bar on Amsterdam Avenue between 80th and 81st Street. I don’t remember seeing him since the pandemic. If the cash is missing from the wallet that was found, I suspect that he may have lost his bag on the subway. Someone rode uptown with it, took the cash and abandoned the bag. I doubt that he walked up there.

      • Sid says:

        walking from 80s to 160 can be done in a handful of hours. Not sure why the other speculation.

      • Truth and Reason says:

        Not necessarily. If you would steal the cash, why wouldn’t you steal the credit cards?

        What bothers me is how it sounds like the hospitals don’t even want to identify the John Does they have. Yes, I know in a city this size, there must be more than one. But how many are an elderly Indian man? Get off your butt and walk the freaking ward and take a look. How lazy and unfeeling can the person who told them that be?

        • Steevie says:

          You wouldn’t steal the credit card and the phone because that could lead to you being caught. If you just remove the cash and toss the bag in a desolate area you are safe.

    2. dannyb says:

      With the computer dispatch system for EMS, as well as screen displays in all police cars and “smartphones” for all officers, it would be trivial to send out an alert to all “emergency” municipal (and EMS contract) employees in Manhattan (or all 5 boros) asking if anyone’s picked up a person like this. Thirty seconds to type it up…

    3. Kathleen says:

      My brother has Alzheimer’s and it’s very sad and frightening for the individual and the family. I hope this man is safely returned to his home and loved ones.

    4. Robin says:

      My heart goes out to his family. In a city like ours, it’s hard to believe that SOMEONE somewhere hasn’t seen him.
      There should be more effective ways to publicize missing persons so that their face becomes familiar to the public.
      Since most of us are on our phones all the time, perhaps a missing person alert on our phone so at least our obsession could serve a positive purpose.

      • lynn says:

        The NYC.gov app does silver alerts for missing seniors and the Citizen App has actively looked for missing people of all ages. I haven’t received alerts from either of these apps, so if the family hasn’t already done so it might be a good idea to contact both places. There’s also NYC 1.