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Jacob Samusenko Missing: Mayor, Police Chief Defend Missing Teen Search Efforts

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ERIE, Pa. -- Responding to criticism about the search for missing teen Jacob Samusenko, Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott and the Erie Police Department on Wednesday defended their handling of the investigation.

"Anybody that knows what's going on in this case is very satisfied with what's happening," Sinnott told Erie's WICU News. "The [Samusenko] family is happy with the progress the police have made and the things that they're doing, and the attention they're giving, so that's really the telling part."

Erie Police Chief Steve Franklin told the news station that his department is doing everything possible to find the missing teen.

"Myself and other staff members, took a ride down along the Bayfront several days ago, just looking around trying to follow up on some theories we had," Franklin said. "Everyone's involved, everyone's looking and hopefully, we'll be successful in finding him."

In an article published by The Huffington Post on Wednesday, Adrian Ewing, a local resident who helped organize and manage volunteer search efforts, said he was upset Erie police did not participate in the search.

"There was no involvement by our local police department," Ewing told HuffPost. "People are very frustrated that the City of Erie has no one out here. There is no official presence, no fire department, no search and rescue team, nothing."

Ewing added, "What really burns me up is Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott could not even show up. What is he doing today that's more important? He doesn't give two shits about this case and that's what you should write. We are upset."

Similar statements were made to HuffPost by others in attendance at a Wednesday search briefing.

An area businessman claimed police did not attempt to retrieve surveillance footage from his place of business until Samusenko had been missing for more than a week and by that time, the footage was already erased.

Others said they were questioned by police during search efforts. The officers, according to the searchers, said they were unaware searches were taking place.

VIDEO FROM SEARCH BRIEFING: (Story Continues Below)

Neither Sinnott nor Franklin immediately returned calls for comment from The Huffington Post Thursday. The police department's public information officer has also not yet responded to a Wednesday request for comment from HuffPost.

Ewing, on Thursday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his reaction to Sinnott or Franklin's comments.

Samusenko, 17, was last seen Jan. 29, at his home in the 300 block of East Second Street. Samusenko disappeared shortly after returning home from basketball practice and the teen's family said it would be completely out of character for Samusenko to run away.

There is no evidence that Samusenko either ran away or was abducted, said authorities.

While Ewing and some of the other volunteers have expressed frustration with police, Lyubov Rafferty, a Samusenko relative and family spokesperson, told The Huffington Post Wednesday that the family is appreciative of everything law enforcement is doing to help find their missing love one.

"Personally, I know the police have done multiple casings of the neighborhood and everything. I know the detectives themselves on their days off go looking personally. They don't have to do that -- it's their day off -- but they still go and do that, and the family really appreciates it," Rafferty said.

Jacob Samusenko is 5 foot 5 inches tall and 130 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing track pants and a red zip-up sweater. The "Help Find Jacob Samusenko" Facebook page was created to help share information in the case. A $10,000 reward is being offered for direct leads. Anyone with information is asked to contact Erie police at 814-870-1156 or 814-870-1125.

Jacob Samusenko Missing Person Flyer

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