By Vivian Ho
For almost a month, he was a mystery. A man in tattered clothing arrested for stealing frozen pizzas and candy bars at a Daly City grocery store. A man who didn’t utter a single word as he was bounced from jail to mental wards while investigators struggled to identify him.
On Friday, he got a name. He got a date of birth, a city of residence, a history — and the family that had been searching for him finally got some good news.
A therapist who had once treated 44-year-old Vincent Sagul Saguid recognized his face in a Chronicle story asking for help identifying a man who had been arrested on May 30 for shoplifting and did not speak, said Rich Fischer, an investigator with the San Mateo County Private Defender’s Program.
The therapist alerted the authorities and his family. Saguid’s sister, Odette Camacho, identified Saguid as her youngest brother, a lifelong San Francisco resident with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from UC Davis.
Camacho described her brother as a quiet loner who enjoyed playing chess and reading. He lived with their parents a few blocks from the Balboa Park BART Station for most of his life without showing any signs of mental illness.
But after their father died in April 2011, the quiet loner became even quieter and the family became concerned, Camacho said. In the first week of May, a social worker accompanied the family to his home.
“When we went there, he wasn’t there,” she said. “He came after, about an hour later. The social worker was talking to him and saying, ‘Look, he doesn’t maintain eye contact with you, look, he is delayed in responding to your questions.’ ”
Camacho said the social worker believed Saguid was showing signs of schizophrenia and wanted to get him medical attention. But that was the last time they saw Saguid.
In the month that followed, her family filed a missing persons report and scoured the medical examiner’s website.
When police picked Saguid up after his third attempt at shoplifting from the same store “he looked like he was on his last legs, in dirty clothing, tattered, hungry and not speaking,” Fischer said.
Since then, he has seemed fairly content, Fischer said. When a nurse asked him if he was happy or sad, he drew a smiling face. But he still didn’t speak.
Camacho said she will visit him soon at the San Mateo Medical Center, where he is being held pending charges, but said he most likely won’t communicate with her.
But just knowing that he’s safe will do, she said. “We feel relieved.”
— Reach Vivian Ho at [email protected]