It started as a boys’ night out for two young Americans in Europe. Devon Hollahan took a break from teaching English in the Czech Republic capital of Prague to hop on a train to Frankfurt, Germany, with pal Josh Friedman to catch a concert by American alternative rock group Portugal the Man.
The evening was going well — Hollahan and Friedman downed a few beers, a shot each of Jagermeister, and wound up backstage with the band. Around 3 a.m., the pair left with the band members from the concert venue on the outskirts of Frankfurt toward the city center.
But unable to pinpoint the exact location of their hostel, Friedman turned to hail passersby for directions.
After Friedman was pointed in the right direction, he turned around, but Hollahan, 22, was gone. And in the 10 days since, not a trace of the outgoing, independent young man has been found.
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The young man’s father, Jeff Hollahan, has been in Frankfurt since Sunday, working with local authorities to retrace the steps his son took in the early morning of Nov. 21 and organizing an ad hoc group of searchers who pass out fliers.
Speaking via satellite from Frankfurt Monday, the Scottsdale, Ariz., man gave a grim response when TODAY’s Matt Lauer asked him whether he suspects foul play in the case.
“At this point, I do,” Hollahan told Lauer. “It’s really the only logical explanation that I see, because left to his own devices, we would have [been given] some indication that he was around and well. We would have had phone calls.”
Devon Hollahan could take care of himself, but he wasn’t planning to be away from work so long.
“He had some cash with him, not enough to survive 10 days in Frankfurt or anywhere else in Europe,” his father said. “He had means on his credit card, but he’s not used that. I can only assume that there’s been foul play of some sort, although at this point, there’s certainly no proof to that effect.”
Having a good time
Friedman told NBC News he initially didn’t think anything was amiss when he couldn’t find Devon, even though he had only been standing 20 feet away from him when he stopped to ask locals for directions.
“When he’s drinking, sometimes he will just leave and not say goodbye,” Friedman said. “It’s happened when we’re all out together.”
Friedman said he eventually went back to the hostel, expecting to find Hollahan there. When he wasn’t, Friedman went to sleep, expecting to find Devon back in the room in the morning. When he didn’t show, Friedman went back to Prague, believing his buddy might have caught a train home. Finally, he contacted Frankfurt police and made the dreaded call to Devon’s parents, a call Jeff Hollahan said is “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
What set off alarms for Jeff and his wife, Lynn, was Devon’s continual, clockwork contact with his parents in Arizona while he was abroad. Every Sunday morning, the family engaged in video chats on the computer. In addition, Jeff and Lynn phoned Devon separately once or twice a week.
Jeff Hollahan has worked with Frankfurt police to work up a psychological profile of his son, but from friends to family, nothing had seemed to be troubling in Devon’s life. The young man, whom his father said has a “wandering soul,” moved to Prague in July, teaching Czechs ranging from young kids to housewives how to speak English. His best friend and roommate, Carrie Miltenberger, could offer no reason that Devon would want to make himself scarce.
“We had friends from Denver who visited with him the Sunday before he disappeared; [they] said he had appeared to be in extraordinary high spirits,” Jeff Hollahan told Lauer. “His mother and I both talked to him later that week, and we had pretty much the same read on him.”
Jeff Hollahan was joined by Devin’s aunt, Beth, in Germany as they continue to search for clues, both in concert with the police and on their own. Social networking sites have produced scores of volunteers, and the band Portugal the Man, hailing from Sarah Palin’s home base of Wasilla, Alaska, has pitched in.
The band posted on their Web site: “We met [Devon] and hung out with him. He is a good guy, just like you and I, and his family needs help. We love you and all hope you can help.”
Jeff and Beth Hollahan rallied some 200 volunteers to pass out fliers Monday morning. Meanwhile, police have searched riverbanks and alleyways around the city, with the aid of tracking dogs.
While Hollahan remains focused at the task of locating his son, he admits he sometimes gets a sinking feeling.
There has been some indication that German police have not given the family all the information they currently have on the case, although Hollahan told Lauer, “I guess you never know what you don’t know.” Bloomberg News has reported Frankfurt has been the site of several recent kidnappings of family members of prominent businessmen. Jeff Hollahan is a vice president with Morgan Stanley in Scottsdale, Ariz.
But Hollahan told NBC News he has received no ransom notes — and in the 10 days since Devon went missing, their continual monitoring of Devon’s credit cards shows no charges or ATM usage.
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