Image courtesy of Allison Briley.
Zachary Briley has celebrated Christmas and his birthday—December 19—with childlike excitement every year for the past 23 years. Throughout his young life, he has always found the perfect Christmas gift for his mother, Allison Briley, even giving her a bracelet with her name on it one year.
But this year, Allison said she was without his smiling face for the first time.
Briley has been missing from his group home, an independent living center for people with special needs run through the Harbor Regional Center’s H.O.P.E. Program, since Saturday, December 19.
According to Allison, Briley has the mental capacity of a 12 or 13-year-old and has a seizure disorder of unknown origin. His official diagnosis is mild retardation, and he has been in special needs classes since second grade, Allison said. At the independent living home, Briley resided in an apartment complex with a roommate, and would meet with a counselor on a weekly basis regarding his medical state and other needs.
“He has tremors and he dreams of being a comedian,” said Allison. “He’s never been gone ever in his life. He hasn’t signed onto Facebook. It just isn’t like him. I just don’t know where he could be.”
Described as five feet, 11 inches and 135 pounds, Briley is black, with brown eyes and brown hair. Allison described him as “very friendly, very trusting,” to the point where he usually provides unnecessary information.
Allison and the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) have been searching from Briley since he was reported missing. According to the LBPD, he was last seen following an altercation with his neighbors at 5:00AM the morning of the 19th.
LBPD Officer Brian Dunn said neighbors reported Briley had been associating with two meth addicts, who the neighbor said had also been stealing from Briley. Dunn said the neighbors described increasingly erratic behavior from Briley, stating they felt it was likely he was involved in drugs.
According to Briley’s neighbors, also a disabled couple, Briley had been pounding on their window with a pole Saturday morning, accusing them of stealing his wallet and phone and threatening to kill them. According to the LBPD, officers calmed Briley down and he reportedly returned to his room to go to sleep.
Allison said she hasn’t heard from him since that morning.
“He’s always an outgoing, sweet kid,” said Allison. “He would go to his neighbors for help. He would always tell me when his keys and phone were stolen.”
Allison said when she searched for clues inside his home, his room had things strewn about. Packaging from a recent cell phone delivery was on the ground and nothing was missing, except a brown suede jacket he was likely wearing when he disappeared.
She expressed concern over his disappearance, questioning why his financial statements appeared in his neighbor’s trash, the fact that his roommate was also gone and that he’d had four phones stolen while living in the residence.
However, Dunn said officers had discovered nothing to suggest Briley’s disappearance was criminal in nature, and the disappearance is categorized as “voluntary,” due to his age and the nature of his disappearance. He said Briley’s roommate reported meth addicts occupying the house, sometimes at Briley’s behest, sometimes not.
“His roommate said he was afraid of Zach,” said Dunn, adding that the meth addicts did not have permission from Briley’s roommate to come over.
Dunn also said Briley was rumored to have been going on religious ramblings.
“There’s definitely a chance he’s involved with drugs,” said Dunn. “That, combined with the meds he takes or decides not to take can easily make someone [behave erratically].”
Dunn said that with the discovery of a missing SIM card, which was delivered to Zachary after his phone was delivered, they may be able to locate him. Otherwise, if Zach is carrying his phone, the SIM card is not inside of it.
Dunn reiterated the LBPD’s commitment to finding Zach, and Allison said she is desperate for any news on his location.
“It’s cold outside and I just want him to come back,” said Allison. “It’s scary. I just want to know. Not knowing is killing me.”
Anyone with information pertaining to Zachary Briley’s whereabouts is asked to call the LBPD Missing Person Detail at (562) 570-7246.