SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of Robin Putnam haven't given up hope, even if it's been nearly seven weeks since their 25-year-old son disappeared after boarding a train home to Colorado from art school in California.
All that arrived in Grand Junction, Colo., were his belongings, including identification, laptop and journal.
"Life is basically hell," said mother Cindy Putnam. "Any mother can relate when your child is missing. Your life is over until you find them."
That's why she and her husband, Doug, have taken to the streets in Salt Lake City, where an Amtrak employee, possibly the conductor, reported Robin Putnam exited the train during a stopover without his belongings, said Salt Lake City Police Detective Dennis McGowan.
The Putnams, who live in Telluride, Colo., have gone neighborhood to neighborhood, posting signs, asking anyone if they've seen their son.
After hearing reports of sightings, they are convinced he is alive but not in the right state of mind.
"If we don't find him soon, we have no idea what could happen," Doug Putnam said. "If he was in his right mind, he would never ever do this to us. There is something going on here that is not right, and we know that."
The Putnams said their son suffers from severe anxiety disorder and was having a lot of panic attacks a week before he got on the train in Emeryville, Calif., near Oakland.
They said Utah business owners have reported seeing a man fitting his description wandering like a homeless person but not panhandling for food or money. His parents are fearful after the most recent reported sighting at Veterans Memorial Park in West Jordan.
"We're worried because it sounds like he's almost starving. The woman who called me said he looked like a UNICEF poster," Doug Putnam said.
They also fear his case isn't a top priority with police because of his age.
"I don't care how old they are — if they're 25 or 12. You're not going to give up," Cindy Putnam said. "You're going to stay positive and focused until you find them and especially with a child with mental health issues."
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Detective McGowan said Thursday that the homicide department investigates missing person cases and has been following up on every tip.
He said his office wasn't notified about Putnam until July 13. McGowan said the information he has is that Putnam boarded July 8 in Emeryville.
He said police have printed fliers at the family's request and have distributed them to patrol officers, who in turn have posted them all over town.
Robin Putnam is described as 6-foot-1, 140 pounds, with blue eyes, blond hair and possibly wearing glasses.
The Putnams are asking anyone who sees their son to ask his name and call them or local police.