New search launched for man with CT ties missing in Hawaii

It has been a year and a half since Ben Gumm and Sally McLaren have had contact with their 26-year-old son, Alexander (Alex) Gumm, who was last seen at a youth hostel on the island of Kauai in Hawaii in February 2018.

The anxious family believes he may have entered a monastery on the island, but they aren’t sure. With no word from him for so long, friends recently started work on a social media campaign to spread the word about his disappearance.

“I just want to know, is he alive,” McLaren said.

Gumm and McLaren last saw their son when they dropped him off at a bus station in Maine last February as he began his journey to Kauai. The day before he left, Alexander got a buzz cut, losing his long hair.

Gumm and McLaren have ties to Connecticut: McLaren grew up in Milford, and Gumm was longtime publisher of the Trumbull Times and other weekly newspapers. The family lived in Trumbull and then Easton before moving to New Hampshire in 1998 and then to Maine in 2004.

Gumm said his son had delved into the Hindu religion and Buddhism, and had taken a vow of silence before he left Maine. He went to Kauai “seeking enlightenment,” Gumm said.

According to an article in The Garden Island newspaper in Hawaii this past February, Alexander’s cell phone records indicated that he last contacted two cab companies after staying at the Kauai Beach House Hostel for two days on Feb. 22 and 23, 2018. McLaren said the cab companies had no record of picking him up.

His last known call from his cell phone was placed to the Kauai Beach House Hostel on Feb. 24, 2018, The Garden Island newspaper reported.

“The staff at the hostel remembers Gumm as a quiet and introverted person who kept to himself before leaving after his two-day stay at the hostel,” according to The Garden Island.

Gumm said Alexander was quiet due to his vow of silence.

“Alex took a vow of silence in 2017,” Gumm said. “He very seldom talked to anyone. He tried to be as silent as he could.”

McLaren said she called one monastery on the island and was told that her son was not there and that it often takes up to 10 years to be accepted into a monastery. She reached out to another monastery but did not hear back. “There are about 10 on the island,” she said.

The family hired a private investigator on the island, who did not discover their son’s whereabouts. They even offered a reward for information about Alexander.

Ryan Collins, reporter for The Garden Island, said this week that he was told Alexander is living at Salt Pond Beach Park in Hawaii, where there are a number of people living in tents. But Gumm and McLaren said they have not been told that and don’t know if it’s true.

Whenever Alexander did anything he went “whole hog,” Gumm said. When Alexander was younger he took up skateboarding and became very skilled. Then he took up graffiti and became an accomplished graffiti artist. He is also an accomplished musician, collecting and playing myriad instruments.

“He plays piano, drums, guitar ... ,” his father said. “But his big talent is in writing music. He’s an excellent lyricist.”

McLaren said her son was never into material things, but rather the metaphysical.

Alexander spent time living in Los Angeles, and he primarily worked delivering food. Gumm said Alexander had a good amount of cash from the food delivery and from selling musical instruments online when he left for Kauai.

But their son hasn’t tapped into the nearly $8,000 in his bank account in the past year and a half, which also plays into their concerns.

“I have no problem with him being in a monastery,” Gumm said. “He’s an adult, but if they’re holding him there against his will that would be a very big concern.”

“There are a lot of people in Kauai who live off the grid,” Gumm said, hoping that Alexander is simply doing that, or sequestered in a monastery by his own choice.

But the family also worries that he may have run into foul play. They just want to know.

When several of Alexander’s friends reached out last week suggesting a social media campaign, Gumm sat with them for three hours to help get the campaign going.

“His friends called and said, ‘We really want to try to find Alex,’” Gumm said.

The friends plan to visit Los Angeles and Hawaii to create a documentary to circulate, and in the meantime Gumm shared news of the effort on his Facebook page.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Ben Gumm and Sally McLaren at 207-676-2133, or by emailing them at

Alexander is described as about 5-feet, 11-inches, 140 pounds, with brownish hair and brown eyes. He has two tattoos, one of the Kundalini staff of life on his inner left forearm and the other of the third eye on his right hand.

“If anyone sees those two tattoos, then bingo,” said McLaren.