NEWFIELD, N.Y.—The Ithaca Police Department’s search for Thomas Rath continued Friday, with police combing through the area of Benjamin Hill Road in Newfield. The search was unsuccessful.

Police initially announced that Rath was considered a missing person on May 30, saying that Rath had last been seen on May 17 in “the Jungle,” Ithaca’s de facto homeless encampment near South Meadow Street. In an updated press release after Friday’s search, IPD’s Sgt. Christopher Cady wrote that police now believe Rath was last seen on May 19 in the Jungle.

Details of Rath’s disappearance have not been released except for IPD’s assertion that he was missing under “suspicious circumstances” and that police are “concerned for his safety.”

On Friday, police were responding to leads that reported Rath may be in the 100 block of Benjamin Hill Road area in Newfield, about eight miles from the Jungle. IPD was helped Friday by New York State Police, who provided a helicopter, as well as the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Forest Rangers and Civilian Search and Rescue. Some searchers used school buses and were seen venturing into the thick nearby woods during their search.

Credit: Judy Lucas / The Ithaca Voice

Cady wrote that the investigation is ongoing and encouraged those with information to reach out to police. Rath is described as 6 feet tall and 145 pounds, last seen wearing black jeans and a black hooded shirt carrying a blue bag. Thomas has many tattoos, including one of a black and pink heart on his neck.

Newfield Central School District Superintendent Eric Hartz confirmed that the school, located near the search location, was on “lockout” during the day Friday. Students and staff went about their normal day inside the building, but weren’t allowed outside and the school’s entry point was monitored.

“We were informed by New York State Police that our students were not in danger,” Hartz told The Ithaca Voice. “We as a district took extra precautions by calling the lockout and also canceling after-school activities, except for the PreK-5 after-school program that also remained inside this afternoon.”

A picture of Rath is below.

Thomas Rath, 33, was publicly announced to be missing by the Ithaca Police Department on May 30. Police are requesting help searching for Rath. Credit: Provided / Ithaca Police Department

Ithaca Voice reporter Judy Lucas contributed reporting to this story.

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at