The author of this piece, Vanessa Ryals, is a student at American Heritage High School.
It’s been two months since 16-year-old American Heritage High School student Aage “Augie” Jorgensen disappeared. Charges against his father, Bruce Jorgensen, 58, have been dropped, but students at the Plantation campus are still wondering what happened to their classmate.
Jorgensen was last seen at school December 18 – the final day before classes let out for winter break. On January 9, security staff in the Hawk’s Landing development in Plantation noticed missing-person fliers placed throughout the neighborhood by Jorgensen’s father and notified Plantation Police. The elder Jorgensen told police that the last time he had seen Aage was December 27, when the two got into an argument over directions to a tennis match and Bruce kicked Aage out of the car along NW 136th Avenue in Sunrise.
The elder Jorgensen was arrested on a charge of desertion of a child on January 26 at Miami International Airport, after police believed he purchased a one-way ticket to New Zealand. In a court hearing held soon after his arrest, he pleaded not guilty. Then Josh Howard, one of Jorgensen’s three attorneys, told the court his client had been attempting to travel for business. (Jorgensen is reportedly an attorney, though there is no Bruce Jorgensen listed online with either the Oklahoma or Florida bar associations.) He showed judges there was a round-trip component with the plane ticket, and the charges were ultimately dropped. Police also searched Bruce Jorgensen's home and computers.
The Jorgensens seem to have led unconventional lives. Authorities say they are from the South Pacific.
A video recording released by Plantation Police on February 9 shows Jorgensen’s mother, Nestralda Jorgensen, begging for the safe return of her son. Nestralda Jorgensen currently lives in Palau and told authorities that she has not seen her son since he was 3 years old. She claims that Bruce Jorgensen mysteriously vanished with him while the family lived in Saipan, leaving her and their now-14-year-old daughter behind. In the video, Nestralda exclaims, “It’s been so long. I love you. Please, Aage, come, don’t hide.”
The Jorgensens reportedly lived in Hawaii and Oklahoma before moving to Florida so Aage could pursue his interest in tennis. Jorgensen's sister reportedly lives in Arizona and told Plantation Police that she thought her brother was on the run for parental kidnapping and that she hadn't seen him in years.
Plantation Police have not yet commented on a request for updates in the case. Bruce Jorgensen has pleaded on video for his son's safe return.
Aage Jorgensen was last seen January 10 by a hotel employee, sleeping in the stairwell of an Extended Stay America hotel in Plantation. News reports say the employee was unaware at the time that Jorgensen was missing and so made no attempt to approach the teen. Police say that they also received a call from a woman who said that she had been stopped by Aage when he asked for a ride; she refused but later saw his ordeal on the news.
At American Heritage, Aage was a sophomore. His class schedule was loaded with honors-level courses with a focus on engineering. Classmates and teachers say they are concerned about him.
“Aage has a bright mind and his own perspective on things,” says Linda Gallagher, his English II honors teacher. “He contributed to in-class discussions and communicated well in writing. I know he wanted to do well. It’s really sad that he just disappeared.” Jorgensen submitted a poem, Waves of Crashing Emotion, to the school literary fair. The school has declined to release its contents.
A classmate described him as smart but strong, saying, “Don’t get me wrong: Aage was a very intelligent kid. But he was defiant. If he didn’t want to do something, he wouldn’t do it.”
Teachers say Jorgensen spoke about eccentric things his father did, such as paying for tuition in cash. American Heritage School tuition begins at $26,316 per year for students enrolled in grade ten. That’s roughly $2,924 a month, not including technology fees, lunch fees, and the cost of textbooks and uniforms. Elise Blum, the principal, confirmed that Jorgensen was withdrawn from school ten days after he went missing.
Aage’s math teacher, Zachary Carfagno, says, “I did have email conversations with his father about his grades. His dad was a little strange, to say the least. I got five-paragraph essays from him about Aage’s grades and everything was in legal jargon, which was hard to comprehend. Usually when a parent emails a teacher, it’s more of a person talking to a person rather than a legal document. Despite this, Aage really worked hard in the honors-level Algebra II class.”
Outside of school, Jorgensen is known to enjoy playing tennis. Last summer, he trained with the Midtown Athletic Tennis Club in Weston. He also enrolled in summer school at Heritage to catch up in math so he could be at the honors level when classes resumed. His summer-school teacher, Avi Spiller, described him as being one of the “better kids” in class.
This isn’t the first time Jorgensen has disappeared. In 2013, he ran away when he and his father lived in Hawaii. A 2013 report by Kapi’olani Community College news noted that over three months, he was spotted at the college in Honolulu. He took food from refrigerators and played videogames in the library. Authorities at the campus warned students to act discreetly if they saw him, as he was known to run from anybody in uniform, the article said.
American Heritage administrators have been reluctant to comment about the matter, but students still speculate what happened to Aage Jorgensen between classes. I’d like to think that if I went missing, my classmates would speak up. I may not know Jorgensen personally, but from what I’ve gathered, he is a pretty great kid.
If you or anyone you know has any information on Aage Jorgensen’s whereabouts, please don’t hesitate to contact police at 954-797-2100.