NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After 70 days of searching, Mark Bakotic, Sr., held a vigil for his missing son, Mark Bakotic II, in Jackson Square.
A handful of family and friends gathered to pay tribute to Bakotic after he went missing on December 30th in the Warehouse District.
His father says Bakotic left Republic nightclub and got into a cab, where he likely lost his wallet.
"It appears my son, he dropped the credit cards and left them as he got out of the taxi cab. From that area on, my son got out of the taxi under his own power and went off toward Canal Street in the French Quarter," Bakotic said.
Since his disappearance, Bakotic has spent days at a time scouring New Orleans, searching for any sign of his son, following leads and tips from perfect strangers who think they've spotted the younger Bakotic.
"Sometimes it's easy. I show up there and I see the person and I'm like no that's not my son and sometimes I can't disprove it. Those I have to take more serious that it was probably him," Bakotic said.
He's hopeful his son is still alive, wandering the streets of New Orleans, either too scared or embarrassed to come forward, but each time officials find a body in the river or on the coast, it's gut wrenching.
"Every single time there's an unidentified John Doe all along the Gulf Coast my email box fills up with people praying it's not my son and until that time that we locate him I have to go on pins and needles every time someone's found in a drainage canal in Gulfport, Gulf Shores, or New Orleans and so far that's happened five times in the last 10 weeks," Bakotic said.
It's hard for his friends and family not to assume the worst, but his father is holding on and hoping his son is alive.
"It could very easily be that he's just so guilt-ridden and so depressed that he doesn't want to come forward, when in reality, what he has left his friends with is nothing but love because they miss their friend. They don't know or understand what's going on, just like I don't," Bakotic said.
Crimestoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for anyone with information that leads to a felony arrest if a crime was committed against Bakotic. His family is also offering a $7,500 reward to any who simply finds Mark Bakotic II.
If you have information you must contact Crimestoppers to receive the reward, you can also contact Bakotic's father directly at 228-627-3706.