Disabled man missing 5 hours before report

LAWRENCE — Investigations are underway after a 53-year-old intellectually disabled man went missing for more than 24 hours, made it 82 miles to the Mass Pike and was dropped off at a Boston hospital emergency room this weekend, police said. 

A nurse at Tufts Medical Center recognized Jacinto Goulart from a missing persons report and contacted Lawrence police.

Goulart was not dressed for cold weather, prompting extreme concern from family, friends and caregivers after he went missing Friday morning. 

Five hours lapsed between when Goulart went missing and staffers at CLASS Inc., a care and work facility for the disabled in Lawrence, reported him missing, police Chief Roy Vasque said. 

 

In July, another CLASS Inc. client left a service van and was found running on Interstate 495 in Methuen.

On Monday, Vasque said he wanted a detective to interview Goulart to see why he left his day program in Lawrence and to make sure he was not harmed while he was missing from Friday morning to Saturday evening. 

"We just want to make sure nothing happened," Vasque said. "It's certainly a concern. ...This is the second incident I am aware of with this organization." 

In a statement released Monday afternoon, CLASS Inc. said Goulart has been involved in the program for 20 years.

When he went missing, "CLASS management immediately followed appropriate procedures," the statement read.

"According to reports, Mr. Goulart was located on Saturday and we are relieved that he is now safely at home. This critical situation is deeply concerning and we are working closely with investigating authorities. In addition, we at CLASS are conducting our own internal investigation to learn exactly what occurred," according to the statement. 

Located in Lawrence since 1976, CLASS Inc. supports more than 400 adults with autism and intellectual or developmental disabilities with day services, employment opportunities and more. 

The organization, which also has a facility in Wilmington, creates an inclusive environment by promoting people’s abilities, self-advocacy and developing community partnerships that contribute to each individual living life to its fullest, according to the statement. 

The incident last summer involved a "young man" who "failed to arrive at CLASS after his van picked him up from his home."

"Staff involved with that incident were terminated," according to the CLASS Inc. statement. 

On Friday at approximately 3:19 p.m., police were sent to CLASS Inc. at 1 Parker St. where two directors said Goulart "was not able to be located and they believe he may have walked out of the program building," according to a report. 

The directors told police he was last seen around 10:30 a.m. and their staff did not tell them of Goulart's absence until 2 p.m. "... which led them to believe staff may have delayed reporting him missing for fear they will be reprimanded," according to the report.

Staffers began searching the building for Goulart around 2 p.m. They said he has "developmental disabilities and slight cognitive impairment" and was last seen wearing a white button-down shirt, blue sweater and was carrying a gray and blue bag, police said. 

When Goulart wasn't found in the building, staffers also checked local hospitals, a relative's nearby residence and his residence in Andover. 

"They also said he likes to go to bars and walk on Route 28," according to the report. 

Police posted Goulart's picture on the department's social media accounts and his photo was also given to the patrol division. 

Officers searched the CLASS Inc. building, canvassed Route 28 from Andover to Methuen, spoke to his relatives and checked the local Portuguese Club where Goulart likes to go with "negative results." 

Goulart was located around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. 

"I know him from my childhood," Vasque said. He and Goulart are both of Portuguese descent and grew up in Lawrence, he said. 

Vasque stressed the need to promptly report someone missing, particularly someone in a vulnerable population, including children, the disabled and the elderly. 

"Five hours later somebody can be halfway to New York City by that time," he said. "We need to strike while the iron's hot." 

A time delay when a person goes missing "could decide whether we find them or something else happens to them."  

Vasque said police will immediately want to track a missing person's phone and check places they like to frequent. 

"The more information we get, the more information we can put right out," Vasque said. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.