Skylar Peterson Tosic and his mom had a great relationship. The sort of relationship that many mothers wish they had with their grown children.
“Sky was good about keeping in touch with me via text,” Olivia Tosic said. “We were so close, my son and I and my fiancé Ray, playing music together, hanging out,” she said.
Olivia music industry journalist and publicist, was referring to her partner Ray Masters, better known to music lovers around the country as Ukulele Ray. Now both Masters and Skylar are gone: Masters died on April 6 of this year and Skylar disappeared under strange circumstances the weekend of Aug. 29, 2015.
Twenty-year old Skylar lived at home in Escondido near the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with his mom and Masters while attending classes at Palomar College.
“It was two weeks into the semester at Palomar when I got a strange text from him on Friday the 29th,” Olivia said. The text said: “I’m with two new friends, Thadeus and Eli. They a little too funny.”
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Feeling that something was amiss, Olivia immediately texted him back but didn’t hear from him again. Skylar didn’t come home that night, but his mother explained: “My son’s in his 20s. If he wanted to be out for the night with friends, there wasn’t anything I could do.”
Skylar didn’t come home on Saturday either, but he did show up Sunday afternoon. Since his car was in the shop being repaired, Olivia wondered how he was getting around but she was so happy to see him that she didn’t ask a lot of questions.
“He was all dirty,” she said. “He told me that he’d been hiking, climbing hills. But he’s not a nature-lover.”
Olivia left for about 15 minutes to do some work and when she came back, he was gone. The next time she heard from him was at 8 p.m. that night, when he sent a cryptic text that cut-off in mid-sentence. It read: “There’s two women with us now. They have passports and they’re rich. They want me to travel with them. They want to go to … ”
“That’s when I called the Escondido police,” Olivia said. “I reported him as being a missing person but they told me that since Sky was over 18, there wasn’t much they could do.”
Nearly three years after his disappearance, Olivia knows a little more about where her son was during part of that weekend, but that information has only led to more confusion. Through sleuthing on her own and with the help of a private investigator, Olivia discovered that on that Friday evening an Uber driver had dropped Skylar off near San Pasqual Academy in Escondido. The academy is described as the first-in-the-nation residential education campus for foster youth ages 14 to 18.
“I don’t know where he slept on Friday but he was discovered sleeping at the academy on Saturday night. I was told that he was tired and dehydrated. He was given some crackers and water and the academy director let him stay there that night,” Olivia said. “Then someone from there drove him home on Sunday.” When Skylar left home that day, another Uber driver again dropped him off near the academy.
— FindSkyPetersonTosic (@FindSkylarTosic) August 30, 2016
A few months after her son disappeared, Olivia was watching the local news and saw a segment about the disappearance of another young man, Elijah “Bear” Diaz.
“I was shocked,” Tosic said. “It was so strange because Bear disappeared the same weekend as Sky and they looked a lot alike and were the same age.”
Although unlike Skylar, Diaz was either taken from his home in El Cajon against his will or left voluntarily with someone the night of Aug. 29, enough similarities existed between the two cases that investigators initially believed there might be a connection. That suspicion increased when investigators pinged Diaz’ phone in Santa Ysabel, only 30 miles from Escondido; but eventually a connection was ruled-out.
Despite the fact that Skylar and Diaz were featured on the Investigation Discovery Channel’s series “Disappeared,” local media covered their stories for several weeks and the investigations into their disappearances continue, no trace of either young man has been found.
As the third anniversary of her son’s disappearance approaches, Olivia is turning her frustration and grief into something positive.
“Ray came up with the idea of using drones to search for people who’ve disappeared,” she said. “There are places where it’s hard for searchers to get to, like where Sky went missing. All that wilderness, that remote area of fields and hills.”
“I want to create a drone app that will allow licensed drone operators to search for people who are missing. Ray came up with the idea of calling it Sky Alert,” Olivia Tosic said. To raise money to fund the creation of the app, she’s holding a fundraiser on Aug. 29 to raise awareness about missing persons in San Diego.
“No one can imagine what it’s like to have your child disappear,” Olivia said. “There are some days that I think I’m going crazy, but I have to get up every day and never give up hope. The two people I was closest to are gone but I have to believe that Skylar is still out there somewhere and that he’s going to come home one day. I feel Ray’s presence all around me, urging me to find Skylar and bring him home.”
The Sky Alert Foundation fundraiser takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 29 at Fast Times restaurant on 3065 Claremont Drive, San Diego. The evening will include a dinner and a show featuring Greg Douglass of the Steve Miller Band, Rick Bozzo from Meatloaf and RADD Company, a Bad Company tribute band. Tickets cost $15.
For more information and/or to purchase tickets visit: skyalertfoundation.brownpapertickets.com.