Peter McColl as a young teen

Fifteen years ago, Peter McColl walked out of his north Berkeley home. He told his younger brother Joseph that he was taking the bus to visit Cody’s Books on Telegraph.

No one in his family has seen him since.

McColl, who was just days away from starting his junior year at Berkeley High, disappeared around 9 am on August 28, 1995. He had left $100 in his room, wasn’t wearing his glasses, and didn’t take any clothes with him.

Kristen Bender, a reporter for the Oakland Tribune, writes movingly in the paper how McColl’s disappearance has frustrated – and devastated – his family. None of them live in Berkeley anymore, and looking for McColl is an active part of their lives. They play different scenarios over and over in their minds: he ran away, he was kidnapped, he joined a cult, he was murdered.

“I look for him all the time in my daily life — in crowds, at airports, on street corners in Seattle,” McColl’s mother Suzan, told the Tribune. “Tall, slender figures with long, brown curly hair often get a second look or even a U-turn if I’m driving. Young men playing guitar for spare change. Strangers who walk a certain way on the street outside my kitchen window. It’s almost subconscious now, like a sixth sense, having this radar operating. And I think all parents of missing kids must do this. I am realistic about the possibility that he is dead, but I fully believe he is more likely to be alive, living in another identity, for reasons only he and God know. And one day while I am working in my garden he will open the gate and say, ‘Mom, it’s me, Peter’.”

Berkeley police are still looking for McColl.

“The case strikes us as a significant mystery,” Sgt Mary Kusmiss, a spokesperson for the Berkeley police department, told the Tribune. “We do need the community’s help, possibly nationwide help, to get to the bottom of this. Cases like this that get a lot of attention and have a real air of mystery to them never leave a detective’s mind.”

Read more about McColl’s disappearance and the impact on his family here.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...