YORK, Pa. -- College student Patrick M. Welsh hopped on a midday train to New York City on April 15, relaxed and in good spirits and carrying a backpack.
He reached his destination that day, but police know nothing more about his whereabouts since then. Family and friends have not heard from him, and all authorities have to go on is a call made from Welsh's cellphone by a homeless man April 18.
Those who know the 22-year-old professional writing major are baffled by his disappearance.
His close friend said yesterday that Welsh wasn't the type to go more than a few days without calling his family and would not skip town with final exams approaching. ''This is not typical Pat behavior," said York College junior Greg McCallum, 23, who roomed with Welsh last year. ''I'm worried sick about him."
No one is exactly sure why Welsh went to New York. Police say it is possible the aspiring writer may have wanted to go to New York to do research on the plight of the homeless. Laura Bumgarner, the mother of Welsh's current roommate, drove him to the train station in Harrisburg and said he told her he was going to visit friends at Columbia University.
''I think he fully intended to come back. He seemed relaxed and fine," she said. ''It's just strange that someone would disappear off the face of the earth."
Friends describe Welsh as shy and introspective but with a great sense of humor and a fun-loving streak. He is a fan of jam bands and followed the All Mighty Senators' tour last summer.
He also has a deep interest in Eastern philosophy and carries a statue of Buddha in his backpack for good luck, friends said.
Welsh, from Sykesville, Md., transferred to York College last spring after attending St. Mary's College of Maryland. He has earned mostly A's and is on track to graduate in December, McCallum said.