Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Year Later, A Mother Returns to Vienna

In the months since we first reported on Kathy Gilleran's search for her son, Aeryn, PFLAGers have asked us to keep you updated on the story . . . and there has been an outpouring of support, from Kathy's hometown PFLAG chapter to New York Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell, for Kathy and her family. We've stayed in constant contact with her, and this morning the Ithaca Times became the latest press outlet to report on Aeryn's disappearance.

In just a few weeks, Kathy will return to Vienna on the one-year anniversary of the last time Aeryn was heard from. And because, in part, of the media attention that PFLAG has brought to the case, Austrian officials have agreed to meet with her, and the consulate in Vienna has stepped up, reached out to Kathy and finally showed some interest in helping to solve this case.

"That Aeryn was gay is something Gilleran thinks played a role in the way police handled the case," the Times reports. "He'd had a run-in with police in 2003 when he was taken into custody over a subway ticket miscommunication, and filed a complaint with Amnesty International regarding his treatment by officers. According to an Associated Press report, the deposition Aeryn filed regarding the incident stated comments were made about his being gay."

"Gilleran has had contact with several international agencies for the protection of gays and lesbians, and one told her Vienna 'was receptive of homosexuals, and didn't see any wrongdoing by police in cases involving gay people. They felt gay people would not be afraid to talk to police,'" the paper recounts.

"But, two weeks prior to Aeryn's disappearance, the Vienna police felt the need to start a gay and lesbian task force to protect gay and lesbian officers," she said. "If nothing was wrong, why would there be a need to protect them?"

And now, Kathy is preparing to visit the site of Aeryn's disappearance and continue her quest for answers.

"Gilleran is headed back to Vienna in the coming weeks - leaving Oct. 26 and returning Nov. 2 - to mark the one-year anniversary of her son's disappearance," the Times notes. "She's going by herself because she's afraid of how she might handle herself if friends -who've offered to go with her - try to comfort her."

"Because I have to, because my son is there somewhere, because I have to be there," Gilleran said tearfully when asked why she was going back. "I want to make sure they know I'm not going away. Somehow they made my son disappear. I'm not going away quietly."

And as long as Kathy continues her search, PFLAG will continue to stand, and fight, alongside her, too.

To read the complete Ithaca Times report, click here.

Photo by Rachel Philipson


crystal said...

thank you again for helping kathy with finding answers and bring awareness to aeryn's plight. kathy means a great deal to me in my life, and she deserves answers. i love her dearly, and it is a relief that there may finally be some resolve to the issue. thanks again, and stay with her.

K. Wagner said...

Thank you for covering this tragic story. I am a long time family friend and deeply love and miss Aeryn. Someone in Vienaa must know what happened and your organization will hopefully help them come forward.
K. Wagner

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank Steve Ralls and PFLAG for all of their support to Kathy Gilleran and the case of her missing son. As long as this stays in the public eye the more people especially in Vienna are going to see that Kathy is not givig up or going away. This is her son and she deserves to know fully what happened to him almost a year ago. I Love Kathy and support her 100%.
Again thank you to all at PFLAG, what you do is appreciated more than you'll ever know.

sunshinegirl said...

Steve: The support that you and PLAG have provided has been critical in moving this search forward. Thank you so much for the help you given to my dear friend, Kathy.

Kathy B. said...

Steve: Once again, thank you for all you have done to help Kathy in her search for answers to Aeryn's disappearance. All who know her story are hoping that she will finally get some answers on her return trip to Vienna later this month. Local PFLAG members were touched deeply by her story, and we're grateful (and proud) that you, on behalf of PFLAG National, were able to offer her some concrete assistance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for bringing this tragic story to the awareness of so many people. Kathy is a dear friend. She's a mom looking for answers, it shouldn't be this difficult to get answers about your son.

Rhea Foote said...

thank u for your continued coverage of this story. aeyrn, kathy and her other son, rahman, remain in my thoughts and prayers each day, and i hope with each effort made, big or small, that they will be closer to resolving this matter, and getting the answers they so desperately deserve.

Neil Burns said...

Thanks again Steve for your continued help in making people aware of Kathy and Aeyrn's story. I looks like, with your support, things are moving forward. I really appreciate all that you are doing - keep up the great work - it means so much to so many of Kathy's friends that someone like you is supporting her.



lisa said...

Thank you for continuing to cover this story. Kathy is a great mother and she deserves some answers. I continue to keep her and Aeryn in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep us posted on what we can do to help! Love you Kathy!

c cushing said...

To Steve Ralls and the Entire PFLAG Family. This is to commend you for all you have done thus far. You have chosen to be a voice where many others have chosen to be silent and your actions have been noted. Your care and true genuineness have provided a source of light, hope and at at times a rare moment of ease during a time of tremendous darkness and suffering. You have played a valued part in transforming one's life into a life worth living again. Well done.