ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Benjamin Chapinski, Jr. just wants his son back. Chapinski says his 56-year-old son, Benjamin Chapinski, III, has been missing for three days.
“You’d be completely broken,” Chapinski said. “You’d be worried.” This isn’t the first time he’s been gone before too. He was missing for about two weeks back in 2017.
“I couldn’t sleep at night,” Chapinski said. “You can’t eat.”
Making matters scarier, the younger Chapinski has schizophrenia.
“I was talking with my son and he was acting very strange,” Chapinski recalled. “And so I said, ‘You haven’t been taking your medication.'”
The next day — the day before Thanksgiving — Chapinski woke up to find his son gone from his St. Petersburg home. After calling police, they issued a missing person alert and found his son later that day in the northern part of the city.
“He said to me, ‘We just spotted your son.'” Chapinski said, “‘We told him to get in the car. He said he’s not going in the car and he doesn’t want to go home.'”
According to police, they do not have the authority to transport the younger Chapinski home. When they interacted with him, he kept crossing the street and evading the police officers. But since he didn’t say or do anything that would harm himself or others and he wasn’t breaking the law, they couldn’t take him.
“People in his condition without medication, they’re delusional,” Chapinski said. “They have hallucinations. And in addition to that, they’re a danger to themselves.”
Police also said they saw Chapinski, III buying beer and food at a convenience store. When they questioned the clerk about him, the clerk said he acted normally. With both of these eyewitness accounts and no paperwork from the family proving Chapinski, Jr. was schizophrenic, police say their hands were tied. But the family says they were never asked for paperwork, which they say they have.
“Just looking at his appearance,” Chapinski said. “You can tell that his intellectual capacity deviated from the norms.”
However, police did not issue a Purple Alert for the younger Chapinski, which his father says is a mistake.
“It is a fact that it was an error,” Chapinski said. “You can’t deviate from that.”
8 On Your Side asked police why no Purple Alert was issued — they said they would look into it and get back later. St. Petersburg police also said they were aware the younger Chapinski had gone missing before.
Now, the elder Chapinski doesn’t know where to turn for help. He hopes getting the word out, like five years ago, will bring his son home again.
“That’s where I am now,” Chapinski said. “I’m devastated.”