Alex Ratnasothy informed his family that he was going on his "greatest adventure yet" to Nepal twenty years ago. He vanished without a trace.
The 23-year-old from Essex's Grays was scheduled to return home in April 2003.
He issued a forewarning via email on February 21, 2003, stating that he would not be available while on his nearly month-long trek to Everest basecamp.
I'll be back before you know it, he assured his family in his final words. ".
He, however, never did.
Alex's older brother Dr. Joel Ratnasothy and sister Dr. Anna Crozier took time off of work to visit Nepal in July 2003, the month of Alex's 24th birthday. They learned that he had been stripped of every item, including his shoes, before appearing to vanish.
Dr. Crozier claims that her father's health is deteriorating two decades later and that it "suddenly feels urgent" to get answers.
Dr. Crozier would have responded that she believed her brother was dead if you had asked about his disappearance a week prior.
She nevertheless discovered herself reviewing her notes from the 10 months she spent looking for him in Nepal as the 20th anniversary of his disappearance drew near.
She now questions whether he might have chosen to go undiscovered.
"I thought he can't be alive or he would have contacted us," the Chelmsford doctor says. "But now that I think back, I think he was scared after the robbery.".
She says one witness told them they saw a man they thought was Alex barricade himself into a hostel room, displaying he was "clearly distressed.".
In a few months, Alex will turn 44. He has consistently been on his loved ones' minds on birthdays, anniversaries, and other family-related events over the years.
Dr. Crozier says, "It feels like a branch of our tree is missing.
"It was really painful because we all met on his 40th birthday. He wasn't there, which made that terrible. ".
Dr. Crozier, now 47, and her brother Dr. Joel Ratnasothy, now 46, used a local guide to retrace their brother's steps in 2003, a time before social media appeals.
Over the next few weeks, they discovered that although he had been robbed of his cash and possessions, he had left his passport at a travel agency while attempting to book a flight to Dubai.
"I literally haven't stopped thinking about him since last week, when he returned to Kathmandu and requested a flight to Dubai. If he made it out of the robbery alive, what is he doing and where is he?
Dr. Crozier thinks that her brother was singled out by robbers because "he was vulnerable" in that situation. She speculates that it could have "triggered a breakdown.".
The computer science graduate visited Nepal as part of a year-long trip.
Dr. Crozier spent ten months looking for any information regarding her brother. By speaking with locals, she was able to confirm that he had visited Nepal's Arun Valley before returning to Kathmandu at the beginning of April 2003.
After looking to purchase a ticket to Dubai, the investigation became unproductive.
It was "really awful" to realize we hadn't found him while flying home, she claims.
Finding answers seems "suddenly urgent," according to Dr. Crozier, because their father Anthony's health is failing and it has been exactly 20 years since he last spoke with them.
If Dad passed away unaware, she says, "it would be tragic and heartbreaking.".
"I hope that he has a life. In particular for dad, he doesn't even need to get in touch with us; just let us know if he's still alive. ".
Dr. Crozier, who is a mother, claims that the experience of having her brother go missing has given her a new perspective.
"It genuinely helps you realize and value what's significant in life. Everything else is just a blip; as long as my kids are safe, that's all that matters.
It's been difficult for the entire family. ".
Dr. Crozier is interested in speaking with anyone who might have seen her brother or who might know something about his disappearance.
According to her, identifying characteristics like a sizable Chinese dragon tattoo on his back may help people recognize him.
I do have a little hope," she admits. Sometimes, you do hear reports of people being located.