Details of Disappearance
Friel was last seen at a Marriott hotel in Solana Beach, California on March 20, 2004. He has never been heard from again.
Friel's truck was discovered on March 30; it had been abandoned on the Coast Highway, just outside the entrance to the Torrey Pines State Reserve. It received three parking tickets before being impounded. The vehicle contained his passport, luggage, computer and cellular phone.
On April 11, searchers at the Torrey Pines State Reserve found a pair of neatly placed size 11 Saucony's shoes believed to be Sean’s in the park. There were socks tucked into the shoes and Sean’s glasses were also found. The items were found above Table Rock, at the edge of a hundred-foot cliff overlooking the beach. Although there had been rain on April 2, the glasses were not water-spotted.
Some time after Friel's belongings were found at the park, his credit cards were used in Brazil. Police have not been able to determine who used the cards.
Friel had been planning to move to Los Angeles at the time of his disappearance and start a new job as a computer programmer. He is described as a mild-mannered and low-key man who does not usually get angry. He is an avid hiker and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
He attended several Zen and Buddhist retreats prior to vanishing, and some of his loved ones theorized he staged his 2004 disappearance in order to simplify his life. His case remains unsolved.
Some agencies state that Friel disappeared from San Diego, California on March 16. That city's police are investigating his disappearance.