A Yale student vanishes on New Year’s Day 1984

In the early morning of January 1, 1984, 24-year-old Samuel Arthur Todd took a break from a party at 271 Mulberry Street to get some air . . . and was never seen again.

His disappearance is one of those New York cold cases that seems to be forgotten, but it shouldn’t be.

Sam was a Yale Divinity School student who had graduated from Vassar in 1981. Active in social justice causes, he’d planned to be a minister, like his father.

On New Year’s Eve 1983, he and his brother met friends to celebrate at different parties in what articles later reported as Chinatown, today’s Nolita.

“At their third stop, a party in a second-story loft on Mulberry Street, Samuel told his brother he had drunk too much and his head was spinning,” The New York Times reported in March 1984.

“He went down to the street to get some air, shrugged off [his brother’s] offer to join him and was last seen by his brother as he began jogging the half-block toward [Houston] Street. He never returned.”

On New Year’s Day and in the weeks after, friends and family scoured the city looking for him, posting thousands of fliers and checking in with police frequently.

They insisted that Sam was “solid and stable,” someone who had no reason to disappear. He’d left his wallet, ID, and coat at the Mulberry Street party, as if he had intended to return.

But no leads, clues, or trace of Sam have ever been found.

Various theories have been introduced over the years. Was he solicited by a cult? Was he the victim of a gay basher, even though he was straight? Did he have a mental breakdown?

Sam’s friends rejected these scenarios. Sam would be 52 years old this year. But whether he’s even alive remains a mystery.

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