The morning of Aug. 26, 1998 began like any other for Victoria Tsui of New Hyde Park.
She got up and had to go to work. She briefly said “hello” to her younger brother, Yim Yeung Tsui, who went by Jimmy, and expected to see him later that day. However, that was the last time anyone has seen Jimmy Tsui.
Jimmy Tsui was 20 at the time and, to this day, his family has no idea what happened to him. His parents were in Australia visiting family at the time of his disappearance. They flew home when they heard he was missing, as did another sister, Annabel Tsui, who was living in Hawaii at the time. Jimmy was one of five siblings and Victoria said the whole family began searching for him.
They searched around the Stony Brook campus, where he was a student, and the Port Washington area near beaches, which Victoria said he enjoyed. They even went to the Manhattan Chinatown to look, but found nothing.
Annabel Tsui, who now resides in the Los Angeles area, remembers the last time she spoke with Jimmy; it was about a week before his disappearance during their weekly phone call. It was early in the morning for her because of the time difference between New York and Hawaii.
“I was still in bed and I had the window open. There were birds outside singing and he said ‘there’s birds outside, that must be nice.’ I told him he could come visit any time,” Annabel said.
She said the family didn’t know anyone at Stony Brook and didn’t know what their resources were or who could help them. She had not lived with Jimmy for a number of years. She is six years older and said because of the age difference, felt more like a mother to Jimmy.
“I loved him when he was a baby,” Annabel said.
Annabel has made efforts over the years to search for him. She said she’s traveled to New York more than once to look and even went up to Albany to do DNA tests, but nothing has been revealed. She said she doesn’t know where or how to look for him.
According to the state Missing Persons Clearninghouse, Jimmy is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weights 140 pounds. He has black hair and black eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing blue jeans and glasses. He would be 42 years old today.
The Tsui family moved to New Hyde Park from China in 1989, they had relatives in the area. Annabel said Jimmy was very shy and had a difficult time adjusting to the new setting. She said he was uncomfortable because he couldn’t speak English well.
When he reached college age, Annabel said she would sometimes ask Jimmy about how school was going and he would say he was doing well and getting an internship, but she learned later he was struggling at Stony Brook.
Victoria also would ask how things were going at school and he would assure her everything was fine, but she learned he was struggling academically. She said Jimmy didn’t have many hobbies and agreed he was shy, but was close with her and their brother Allen. She was in college at SUNY Old Westbury at the time.
According to a Newsday story, the family received a letter after Jimmy Tsui’s disappearance informing them he had been expelled for not maintaining adequate academic standing. He had not declared a major.
The case is being investigated by the Nassau County Police Department. A spokesman said that missing persons cases are never closed until there is some sort of resolution, but the department did not respond to requests for comment on the status on this case.
Robert Sputo, a retired Nassau County Police Detective Sergeant, recalled the case and said it likely has not been touched in years.
On April 4, 2011, the body of an Asian male was found on Gilgo Beach. It was one of eight sets of human remains found in the area that are suspected to be the victims of an unidentified serial killer, sometimes dubbed the Long Island Serial Killer. It was briefly thought that Jimmy Tsui’s mystery may have been solved, but DNA tests revealed the body was not his. The body remains unidentified and according to the NamUs database, had been deceased more than five years.
Annabel Tsui said when the body was found, a frenzy of media members and police came to her parent’s house, which she said traumatized them. For that reason, she asked her parents not be contacted for this story.
“It’s really hard,” Victoria Tsui said. “Even today, my parents still feel something is missing from the family.”