Reward offered in search for 22-year-old missing from South Side

PITTSBURGH — A $7,500 reward is being offered for information that leads to the finding of a missing 22-year-old man from the South Side.

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Missing Persons Unit said Paul Kochu was last seen at his Wharton Street residence around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Paul Kochu's mother told Channel 11's Jennifer Tomazic that she spoke with him Monday night.

"We were talking about Christmas presents and I told him I got a tree. He was very excited to be coming home," Ellen Kochu said.

Paul Kochu's father, Jack Kochu, told Tomazic that his son was with his housemates watching Monday Night Football at a bar Monday night.

According to his dad, they went home and Paul Kochu's housemates left just after midnight to get food.

"Paul declined because he was in disagreement in something that had happened earlier in the night. So he stayed here. They went to get something to eat -- we don't know where. But when they came home, Paul was gone," said Jack Kochu.

Paul Kochu hasn't been seen since.

Paul Kochu is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 180 pounds, police said. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

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Tomazic reports that Paul Kochu is a graduate of Duquesne University and is a nurse at Allegheny General Hospital.

Three days after Paul Kochu disappeared without a trace, a Pittsburgh police cadaver dog picked up a scent.

"There was one point the dog hit a slight scent in an area of interest. Anyway, we are going to go back down again and get river rescue to get on the water and see what they can do," said Assistant Pittsburgh Police Chief Maurita Bryant.

A team was seen searching in the water near Riverfront Park Friday afternoon for nearly an hour, but divers came up empty-handed.

Police said they are holding out hope that nothing found during the river search is a good sign.

"The detectives have been in constant contact with the family. We are hoping it's an area he may have walked along that way the dog came upon. We hope he is somewhere safe," said Bryant.

On Saturday, Paul Kochu's family and friends scoured the South Side looking for any sign of the 22-year-old.

"We've had a lot of positive energy, but we haven't had a lot of positive results," said Jack Kochu.

The search intensifies with each passing day.

"We're looking in trash cans, alleyways, dumpsters, anywhere. Anywhere and everywhere," said Jack Kochu.

Part of Saturday's search was again focused near the water.

Paul Kochus' parents got into town Thursday from Pottstown, where they live.

Jack Kochu said his son's phone is turned off, and his wallet and keys are gone. His white Volvo is still parked outside his South Side home.

Paul Kochu's parents said he has a lot of friends in Pittsburgh and Pottstown. They described him as a great kid.

"I don't think he would have tried to cause any trouble that anyone would try to harm him," Jack Kochu said.

Paul Kochu's roommates told Channel 11 News Friday that they put up nearly 400 fliers, aiming for every telephone pole on East Carson Street.

More fliers were put up Saturday.

Like Paul Kochu's family, they are desperate to find him and ask that the public take a minute to look at their roommate's photo and help locate him.

Detectives are asking anyone who has seen Paul Kochu to call Pittsburgh police at 911 or the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Missing Persons Office at 412-323-7141.

"We're keeping our hopes alive that he's going to be OK," Paul Kochu's mother said.