I have avoided writing about this for a long time because it's one of the most hopeless things in my life right now. A few months after Daniel disappeared in August of 2010, my family and I spread the word and asked people to let us know if anyone saw him. As far as we know, no one has.
I'm sure a lot of you reading this are already aware of Daniel and his condition, but for those who aren't, here are some details: Daniel Swindler is a passionate and loving individual who tries harder than most anyone I know to be a good person; he also struggles with schizoaffective disorder. This debilitating mental illness has left him unable to adequately care for himself and his needs, which is why his disappearance is particularly nerve-racking and worrisome.
Daniel's 37th birthday is tomorrow. In all honestly, we don't even know if he's alive or dead. It's a terrible feeling, knowing that your own brother is either off alone in the world in an awful situation, or that he possibly died alone without anyone knowing. He's been gone for two Christmases and this will be the second birthday that passes with him unaccounted for.
One of the things that hurts most is imagining how my mother would feel about this. Her first baby, the child she adored and protected and had such high hopes for, is lost and alone. I wish so dearly that she could have stayed to take care of him. When she died, his mental illness truly progressed to the next level and I think it destroyed a part of him. He already had bipolar symptoms, but they became much worse in the years following our mom's death.
The thing that is completely infuriating about this situation is the lack of legal help we've received. I personally called several times and talked to the detective who oversees Lehi City, where he was a resident, and even when I cried and I told him that we needed to find our brother, he made no action. He told me to find a doctor who had treated Daniel to send in a request so we could look at his financial records to help pinpoint his location, but when I did, he said that there was no use anyway because a judge wouldn't approve it. They consider him an adult who is "missing by choice." This is totally ridiculous because when he left, he was most likely not in his right mind to make a real choice, not to mention the fact that he's gone without contact for so long. My dad has also attempted to hire a private investigator, but they aren't helping much either. I have a few friends who are lawyers and in law school; maybe you guys can help influence the laws over mentally ill care. It would certainly help to get a lot of homeless people taken care of who are otherwise neglected.
For anyone who knows Daniel, please keep on the lookout for him. Every time I see an article about a body found somewhere, I get a pit in my stomach and I have to read it to see if it might be him. I have had dozens of dreams where Daniel shows up again and I am so incredibly relieved to see him again, but I am always disappointed when I wake up. Even though Daniel has a mind that most of us could never understand, he is still as valuable as anyone and has a heart of gold.
Happy birthday, Daniel, wherever you are. I love you.