James "Jay" Ott — a fashion designer well-known in New York City industry circles — has been missing without a trace for almost two weeks.
And the eerie nature of what friends, family, and authorities do know about the last moments Ott was seen alive has all parties deeply concerned.
The only shreds of information regarding the whereabouts of the 31-year-old Brooklyn resident — never given to stay out of daily contact — are a few surveillance footage clips.
The first shows Ott (clean shaven of the facial hair friends told the New York Times that he'd worn every day for the last two years) leaving his apartment building at 4:35 a.m. Sunday, March 23.
Cameras then record him passing a convenience store around 4:51 a.m.
Finally, cameras capture Ott walking onto the Williamsburg Bridge toward Manhattan at 5:02 a.m., according to Beatrice Kim, 28, a colleague and close friend of Ott. Cameras spot a man who may be Ott exiting the bridge on the Manhattan side.
According to Ott's family, his phone, credit and debit cards and email haven't been used since, the Times noted.
Meanwhile, friends and family have been coming together to get the word out about Ott's disappearance, plastering "Missing Person" fliers adorned with Ott's scruffy image all over Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
Ott isn't known just around New York. In fact, he lent his expertise to Glenn Beck's 1791 Supply & Co. clothing line, playing a crucial role in facilitating the creation of patches the company uses for apparel.
Tim DiDonato, design manager for 1791 (and Beck's son-in-law), was a colleague of Ott's before he came aboard 1791.
When Beck started the clothing line, he wanted a lot of great patches created and asked DiDonato to make that happen. DiDonato went to Ott for advice.
"Without Jay's referral to the vendor we use, 1791 may not exist as it is today," DiDonato told TheBlaze, adding that after hearing about Ott's disappearance he was very concerned.
Ott also worked for J. Mendel as well as the Row, the luxury label by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (who have also stepped in to raise awareness about Ott's disappearance). He even directed the Crippen and Rosetta Getty lines, the Times added.
On Tuesday, Ott’s 62-year-old father, Bob Ott, a retired consumer health care director, came to New York to work with the police and direct a civilian search effort. Bob Ott appeared on WPIX-TV in New York to talk about the search.
Ott confirmed that his son is an alcoholic and that it's possible he was headed to a rehab facility, which is why such locations also have become focal points of the search. But not hearing from their son is strange, as they speak “almost daily,” Bob Ott told the Times, adding that they conversed the day before his disappearance and “everything seemed good."
With a large circle of friends and not known for being uncommunicative, the long silence has been a difficult and disturbing aspect to the case.
“He’s the person who’s always connecting things and people,” Stephanie Otto, 31, a friend of Ott's from their years at the University of Cincinnati, told the Times. “He makes phone dates, and he keeps them.”
Still others said Ott had seemed stressed in recent days.
“With fashion and Fashion Week, there are times when you sleep at the office, and you’re working around the clock, and you do it for weeks at a time,” Kim told the Times. “I would say that Jay was under a bit of stress, but it’s not necessarily something out of the ordinary that he had never experienced before.”
A Facebook page has been created to spread the word about Ott and offer updated information — and those with any information are asked to call the 90th Police Precinct in Brooklyn at 718-963-5368 or email email@example.com.
“My muscles just feel tense constantly,” Otto, whose wedding Ott officiated, told the Times. “I feel sick to my stomach. I will forget about it for a second, and then I’m automatically pulling a flier out to tape it up, and I realize what I’m doing and what’s happening. I’m looking at Jay’s face on the flier, and that it’s still happening.”
Featured image via Facebook