Aeryn Gillern


Aeryn M. J. Gillern

Missing in Austria

Since October 29, 2007


From the US call
202-501-4444 Ask for American Citizen Services/Austria Desk Officer

From US or Canada call

From Austria call US Embassy in Vienna
43 1313 39 7535

My son, Aeryn M. J. Gillern, was last seen on October 29th, 2007 in Vienna, Austria.  He was 34 years old at the time and had been working for UNIDO in Vienna for approximately 4 1/2 years.  He loved the city and had a great apartment overlooking the Danube River.

Let me tell you some more about my son Aeryn, but I need to ask this question first.  Does a mother refer to her missing son in the past or present tense?  I think you will find that I switch back and forth because although I believe Aeryn is no longer alive, he is and he was.

Aeryn graduated from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio,  in May of 1997.  He had spent a year abroad in Gaming, Austria, where, after his initial culture shock, he came to love all things Austrian.  Aeryn went on to earn an Master’s degree from Franciscan, as well as two additional Masters from Webster/American University in Vienna.  He loved and valued education.

After spending his pre college years in Ithaca and Groton, New York, Vienna was a smorgasbord of culture.  Aeryn loved the history and the culture, especially the architecture and music.  He also continued his love of God and the Church.  He loved the ornate churches that abound in Vienna and the Austrian dedication to religious holidays.

Aeryn had a calling early on in life to become a Roman Catholic Priest.  I had attended 12 years of Catholic School, and became a lapsed Catholic at best, so this was truly Aeryn’s choice.  He loved going to Mass, especially when he was able to find a Latin Rites Mass.  After graduating from college Aeryn entered the Seminary in Graz, Austria.  I used to joke with him about becoming the first American born Pope, and he in turn would call me “Mama de Papa”.  For Aeryn, being in the seminary was an eye opener.  He realized that for him to become a Priest, he would also need to become a hypocrite.  Aeryn was gay, and would need to preach against homosexuality.  Aeryn and I had many conversations about this, and in the end he decided that he could serve the Church in other ways, and left the Seminary.

In September of 2007 Aeryn came home to visit me for 10 days.  For all those that knew Aeryn, he loved to shop, and whenever he came home he made way to  JCPenney.  Aeryn loved to shop there and always stocked up on all his clothes and shoes, as he had a hard time finding clothes that fit him in Austria. He was in a great mood, having just finished his third Masters Degree, and having had a vacation over the summer in Egypt with his partner.

We spent time at Cornell Plantations, his favorite local place, where he had spent a lot of time in the past.  Together we put my house on the market for sale.  The plan was for me to sell the house, put my belongings in storage, and move to Vienna for 6 months to live with him, prior to relocating to the Fort Myers area in Florida.  This was an exciting prospect and he was anxious to share the European lifestyle with me.  His flat was large and set up so that we would both have privacy. 

On September 19, 2007, I remember looking out my window and watching him walk my dog in the cul-de-sac as he read his well worn “Prayers From the Roman Breviary”.  On that day I took Aeryn to the Syracuse airport and remember him telling me that he would see me soon and not to cry.  He made me laugh as he joked with a TSA woman about a container of his favorite butterscotch pudding that he wanted to take on board.  That was the last time I saw my son.

On October 27, 2007, I called him to tell him that the real estate market was very slow, and there had been no offers.  He suggested that I look into coming over the first week of December  and staying for 10 days.  I told him I would look into it, and that we would speak soon.

On October 31, 2007, Halloween, I was at work as the Director of the Cortland County SPCA.  I received a call from the Chief’s secretary at the Ithaca Police Department, where I had retired after 21 years in 2006.  She told me I needed to go home, that there was a message at home on my phone.  She kept repeating it as I questioned why, what was wrong, thinking that someone I had worked with at the PD was injured.  She then told me that my son, Aeryn, was missing in Vienna.  I asked how she knew this, and she told me that my son’s partner was panicked and couldn’t remember my number but remembered that I had worked at Ithaca PD.

I only remember grabbing my things and running out to my car yelling to anyone that could hear me that I had to go, my son was missing.  Thank goodness my house was not far from my job, but that 5-10 minutes took forever.  My mind was racing, how could he be missing.  Missing from where?  I ran into the house and listened to my voice mail as a man with a very strong accent told me his name,  and that he was with the HR Department of UNIDO.  He said I needed to call him immediately.  I wrote down the number and called him.  I entered another world, one which will never be the same, one which I still to this day don’t know how to describe or deal with.

He explained to me that my son was last seen leaving work at approximately 6PM on Monday October 29, 2007 and that they were alarmed on Tuesday, October 30, 2007, when he did not report to work or call.  Aeryn, I was told by UNIDO, had a great attendance record, and if he was sick he would always call in.  He also told me that the Police would not take a Missing Person Report because Aeryn was not an Austrian Citizen and they weren’t required to.  He told me that Aeryn’s partner and upstairs neighbor had been to the Police twice, that the Police were aware that Aeryn was gay, as they had asked his partner how he was related, and how the Police has made homophobic remarks to my son’s partner.  He told me that UNIDO had contacted the Austrian Foreign Ministry, who had interceded with the Police and instructed them to accept the report.  That on Thursday, November 1st, 2007, he along with my son’s partner and neighbor would meet with the police and officially report him missing.

After speaking to the UNIDO representative, my younger son Rahman and I, spent several hours on the phone with Aeryn’s partner and his upstairs neighbor as they continued trying to contact people who knew Aeryn.

On Thursday, November 1st, 2007, I flew from my home in Cortland, New York into a nightmare that is still part of our everyday life.  Rahman joined me in Vienna on November 9th in the search for his brother.

For more information please click on the links at the top of the page.

I started this web site when I returned to Vienna in February 2009 for the results of the Inquest.  The BLOG page entries chronicle my meetings and subsequent dealings with the Police from that

point to the present.

The “Letter to the Austrian Police” gives a brief summation of what occurred the 5 weeks that I initially spent in Vienna looking for my son.

Thank you,

Kathryn Gilleran

(I chose to add the “a” back into my last name, which is the

original spelling of my father’s family name)


Today, April 28, 2019, would be Aeryn’s 46th birthday. He has been missing for 11 1/2 years. Not a day goes by without me thinking of him. I will see something or hear something that reminds me of him. Most of all, I want to talk to him. I want to hear his deep voice say "It's me!". I want to hear his laugh. I know that will never happen, but it doesn’t stop my mind and my heart from wanting it. I miss him.  The horror of losing him, the not knowing, the sorrow, the anger, the frustration has not diminished. It ebbs and flows, with some days better than others. It is a forever part of my life that I have reluctantly accepted. On days that I can find the diversion that life brings, I grab it and embrace it for all it's worth. I hang onto those moments of lightness and reflect on them when things get tough. I often say that in the most unfortunate of situations, I am very fortunate. Fortunate to have had so many people enter and become part of my life. They get me through, they make me laugh, and sometimes cry, but they are there for me. They treat me like a person and not a victim. Somehow they know what to do to make that light bright enough where it seems I don't have care in the world. They give my memories to smile at, backstories to be relived over and over, and lift the weight off my heart. I don't have to name them. They know. And I love them for that.

For the past 5 months I have been putting off writing about what is going on. This is why.

On December 4th, 2018 I was contacted by Joseph Gepp, who relayed to me a conversation that he had just had with Mr. Linzer, Head of the Cold Case Squad. The Cold Case Squad has decided that as there was no one coming forward with new information regarding Aeryn's case, that they will no longer be investigating his disappearance. The case will remain open officially, but it is no longer an Active Investigation.  The news hit me hard, and I am still having a hard time dealing with this. Two days ago I finally accomplished what I had been attempting these past 5 months.  I wrote a very long email to Mr. Linzer, and sent it.  The bottom line is I want him to make good on his promise to me. He had promised me, the last meeting that Joseph and I had with him, October 27th, 2017, that they would search the canal one more time. I want him to honor that promise. He can just as easily delete the email, but I had to try. At this point there is no other realistic course of action to be taken. Joseph getting the Ombudsman Board to review the case, which resulted in the Cold Case Squad becoming involved in 2014, was our last chance to to force the police to do anything. As Aeryn's birthday was quickly approaching I knew I had to dive in head first and write, appeal to his sense of decency, and outright beg.

For everyone who has messaged me, or posted on the GONE FB page, or written me emails inquiring if there was any news, this is the news. I apologize for not being able to share this earlier. I am truly grateful for all your concern, prayers, and words of encouragement and kindness.

You can contact me at:


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