The heartbroken parents of a UC Berkeley student who vanished in September are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to her whereabouts and safe return.
Sydney Kaitlyn West, 19, a freshman at UC Berkeley, was last seen on the morning of September 30, 2020, at the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco, California, according to a statement released by the San Francisco Police Department. The release also stated that Sydney is considered at risk due to depression.
Sydney’s great-aunt, Amy Weiss, told Dateline that Sydney last spoke to her family the night before she disappeared. Her parents, Jay and Kimberly West, who live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, “fully expected to talk to her the next day,” her aunt added.
When Sydney's parents were unable to reach her over the next two days, they reported her missing in North Carolina on October 1 and again in San Francisco on October 2. According to Sydney’s family and police, there has been no activity on her cell phone, social media or bank account. Her phone and Bose headphones are also missing.
The San Francisco Police Department launched an investigation into Sydney’s disappearance and is asking anyone who might have seen her to call 911 or their local law enforcement agency and be prepared to provide her current location and clothing description.
Security footage of the missing student from the day she disappeared and dozens of tips have yielded few clues, and after four months with no answers on Sydney’s whereabouts, her parents took to social media to announce a $10,000 reward for information that leads to their daughter’s whereabouts and return.
On Monday, January 25, they posted their plea to the “Find Sydney West” Facebook page.
“So because it’s almost four months now and we are desperate to have our daughter back, we are offering a $10,000 reward to anybody who is able to locate her and bring her home to us," her mother, Kimberly West, said in the video.
Sydney’s parents are urging any witnesses who were in the area and who may have seen something that day to come forward. The area near Golden Gate Bridge where Sydney frequented and from which she disappeared is known for heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
“That morning that Sydney was on the bridge, there were a lot of people that were near her,” Sydney’s father, Jay West, said in the video. “I know this because I reviewed the video so we just absolutely believe that somebody must know something.”
In the video, Sydney’s father pointed out that they are constantly receiving tips and news of possible sightings, but none has panned out as credible.
“Many of these tips, they haven’t panned out, but we are hopeful because... we’ve been able to run them all the way down,” he added. “We want our daughter home.”
Sydney’s family continues to turn to social media to aid in the search efforts. The “Find Sydney West” Facebook page has more than 8,000 followers and the timeline is filled with photos of Sydney and heartfelt posts from family and friends pleading for her safe return.
One post reads, “Come home Syd! Let's go crabbing again! We love you!” Another reads, “Sydney your piano needs some playing! I miss hearing you!!! (Despite the nights your sister was trying to sleep and I asked you to stop for the day ❤️)”
Sydney’s great-aunt Amy told Dateline that her niece is a talented musician who writes and performs her own songs.
“She is a bright, kind, caring, talented and athletic young woman,” Amy told Dateline. She is an avid volleyball player. But she is also artistic. She is a great big sister and daughter. She is very beloved by family and friends alike.”
Sydney, who had lived in the Bay area for most of her life before moving to Chapel Hill with her parents for a short time, was back in San Francisco to attend UC Berkeley for just one semester before she vanished.
“She is witty, highly intelligent and cerebral,” Amy told Dateline. She wants to know how things work. She cared for others, particularly young kids. She liked to have fun and travel… explore and learn.”
Sydney’s great-aunt stressed that it’s not like Sydney to just disappear without telling anyone and that their family is extremely worried.
“We know someone must know something,” Amy said. “We certainly hope it leads to her return. We have received multiple leads for which we are grateful. We hope someone who was on or near the Golden Gate Bridge the morning of Sept 30th who may have seen something will come forward with information. We need her home safe.”
Because Sydney had been living in Chapel Hill with her parents, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina is asking anyone in North Carolina who may have had recent contact with Sydney to call Investigator Ashley Woodlief at (919) 245-2909.
While police continue to investigate, Sydney’s parents have hired a private investigator to help follow up on leads. They ask anyone with information about Sydney’s disappearance to call the investigator, Scott Dudek, at 925-705-8328.
Sydney is described as being 5’10” tall and weighing 130 lbs. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a sweatshirt, dark-colored shorts, and slip-on blue Vans shoes.
Anyone with information on Sydney’s whereabouts is also asked to call the San Francisco Police Department 24-hour tip line at 1-415-575-4444, text a tip to TIP411 (begin the text message with SFPD.)