UPDATE: U.S. Navy Seaman Shaun Palmer has voluntarily returned to his unit. View the full update here.
HONOLULU (KHON2) – The search for U.S. Navy Seaman Shaun Palmer continues, despite a message his parents received late Tuesday morning.
During a press conference, Nayda Mannle, special agent in charge at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) said Palmer’s parents received a text message from their son’s phone that said: “I love you and I’m alive.”
“The one update was this morning, late this morning, the parents of the sailor received a text from him saying ‘I love you and I’m alive,'” said Mannle.
We asked Honolulu police how they knew it was Palmer who sent the text. Deputy chief John McCarthy tells us there’s no reason to believe foul play was involved.
Despite what the message says, the Navy plans on continuing their search.
“His parents have been texting him, so the interpretation is he simply responded to let them know he was alive and well. That said, we still haven’t been able to locate him and we will continue those efforts,” said Mannle.
Palmer failed to report for duty at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on July 1, and was classified as unauthorized absence on July 2 after 24 hours.
Palmer is a hospital corpsman assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
A missing persons report was filed with the Honolulu Police Department and his command is working closely with local and military officials to find the missing sailor.
Palmer was not scheduled to participate in the ongoing Exercise Rim of the Pacific, a large maritime exercise taking place on and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
Palmer’s mother Elizabeth Diane Unterein, who lives in California, said she received a call from the military of her son’s disappearance on Monday morning. She ran multiple scenarios in her head. “Maybe he just went out and had too much to drink and he’ll show up… and he hasn’t shown up.”
Palmer was last seen outside the Kelly O’Neil’s bar on Lewers Street in Waikiki. He never showed up for duty on Sunday or Monday.
“He loves his job. He loves being a corpsman. His commander called me this morning and right away said this is not normal behavior for our son,” said Unterein.
Searching for clues, Unterein called various hospitals on Oahu to no avail. Palmer’s phone had been off since Saturday. His credit and debit card didn’t reveal recent transactions.
Unterein says military officials said her son was with a fellow military member the night he went missing. Palmer’s friend was arrested for disorderly conduct around 2 a.m. after police allegedly tried to detain the man for engaging in a physical fight with an unknown person on Lewers Street.
Palmer’s credit card statement shows the last charge was for a Lyft ride around 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
“It got canceled, I think, because he wasn’t there to catch the ride. There’s no real paper trail after that of where my son’s whereabouts are. There’s no hotel purchases, no food purchases. His phone has been shut off, like it died. It’s not for him to just disappear and vanish,” said Unterein.
Unterein has been working with investigators from California and is contemplating flying to Hawaii to assist in the search.
“I’m trying to hang in there. I’m trying to stay positive. Just please keep your eyes open for my son,” she pleaded.