Andrew Berry might still walk through that door, I thought, the first time I talked with his family.
Berry, a 29-year-old father eagerly awaiting the birth of his fourth child, had been missing for 12 days when I sat in his Holmesburg living room last month with his mother, his wife, and her sister.
Nearby were boxes of missing-person posters in various sizes that they had hung all over the Frankford neighborhood where he'd last been seen Nov. 6, and then were rehung when the posters were inexplicably torn down.
Already they'd organized one search. Another was planned for that weekend.
Relatives and friends had pooled their money for a $5,000 reward.
They hadn't yet spoken to the detective assigned to his case, but there was no wasting time.
Berry wasn't some helpless kid or an old person with dementia. He wasn't a pretty blond teen who vanished from some exotic locale. He was a grown man with a lengthy criminal record and some recently diagnosed mental-health issues - someone who they knew wouldn't be a sympathetic figure to the public or the press.
They knew what people thought:
He just walked off.
He got himself into trouble - again.
He was an adult who eventually would find his way back home, if he wanted.
All of those possibilities crossed my mind. Maybe he was overwhelmed at his growing family? Maybe it had something to do with the medication he was prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Maybe he just didn't want to be found?
No, his family insisted: His disappearance made no sense. His fourth child was due in just days when he disappeared, and the birth would be the first that Berry would witness. He'd been in jail for various crimes, including robbery and assault, during the birth of his other children, including his oldest, his 9-year-old namesake.
He was looking for work. In a video they showed me, Berry excitedly stood by his wife during her ultrasound.
"I know him, this isn't him," his wife, Tracy Zeigler, 29, told me a few weeks ago, as she cried and held her newborn. "This isn't normal."
As much as she tried to remain positive, a childhood memory inched closer and closer with each passing day. When Zeigler was 10, just a few months older than her oldest son, her mother had come into her room to tell her that the father for whom she had been named had been shot and killed.
Now she worried that she'd have to deliver the same devastating news to her children.
When she gave birth to another son Nov. 14 with Berry still missing, Zeigler broke down. The family didn't think Berry had taken up old habits, but Zeigler couldn't stop thinking about something Berry once told her:
"People don't forget things."
Two days before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 22, the family got the call from the coroner's office. Relatives previously had gone there, and to area hospitals and shelters, looking for Berry.
A body had been found in a wooded area near Byberry Creek and Archbishop Ryan High School. It was Berry. He had been shot several times. Police are investigating.
Now, instead of coordinating searches and putting up missing posters and calling his cellphone, the family was setting up a fund-raising page to raise money for the funeral that was planned for Friday.
And like that day years ago, Zeigler found herself uttering the same words to her children that her mother had spoken to her and her siblings the day their father died.
And just as her mother had done, when her oldest son fell to his knees and cried, she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight.
firstname.lastname@example.org @NotesFromHel Helen. Ubinas