September 28, 2019
In mid September, 2019, I posted the notice below on the Facebook Missing and Homeless page after being contacted by Helen Waicunas, Tom’s mom. She had been informed by Humana, and confirmed by the Social Security office, that Tom had died on August 26 of this summer, but they were unable to provide any details of his death or where his body was.
About 10 days later, I was on the phone with Helen when she took a call on a different phone from Patti Caruso Silva, a relative helping with the search for Tom. Over the speakerphone, I heard Patti shouting that Tom was found alive! A woman in Yuba City, Anna Hill, had seen the posting, and was able to locate Tom there. She spoke with Tom and took a photo and video of him. Patti received and pinged them to us as we all were together cross-talking on Helen’s speakerphones, absorbing the news from her. Up until that point we were all but certain Tom had died, and we just wanted closure for Helen knowing where her son was and what had happened.
Anna told us that Tom is liked and accepted in the community. He is able to paint and sell his art. She’s provided art supplies and winter clothes for him. It is great news to hear that he is alive, looked out for, and his creativity is appreciated and supported!
Missing and Homeless post:
“Seeking information about death of musician Tom Waicunas…
On Sept 9th out of the blue, Helen Paxson Waicunas, the 84 year old mother of my friend Tom Waicunas, received a letter from Humana offering condolences about her sons’ death, and that his insurance would be terminated on Aug. 31 2019. They received electronic transmission from Medicare on Sept 2, 2019 regarding his death. She called Medicare but they would not provide any additional details. She called Social Security and they confirmed that they had received notice that Tom had died on Aug. 26, 2019, but they did not know where. She has sent out a form to California Vital Statistics, and is waiting for a response. We have no additional information about the circumstances of his death or the location of his body.
Tom Waicunas was an exceptionally gifted musician and songwriter. He lived in Martha’s Vineyard for 14 years and played with many famous musicians that had residences there. He looked after many of their homes in the winter as he lived on the island year-round. He relocated to Chicago, living there for about 20 years. He backed up well-known Chicago bluesmen, touring in Europe playing harmonica. He studied music at Columbia College. His own music is on-line.
Tom has been living homeless in CA for about the last 7 years. He was attacked in Yuba City, CA and left for dead on November 11, 2017. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and was in a coma for 2 weeks. The director of nursing called his mother November 30 when he woke up and gave her her contact information. He had traumatic brain injury that affected his motor skills, and broken ribs and facial injury. He was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mother spoke with him daily. The nursing director told her that Tom was going to lose all benefits if someone did not contact SS, as he had not been collecting his benefits in over a year. She went to SS and was able to get him back all of his benefits.
Tom was moved to a skilled nursing home in December 2017 and released March 2018 in Roseville CA. He asked his mother to send him all communication with SS as he wanted to become his own payee. She sent all communication from SS addressed to Tom at the nursing home. He never followed up.
There was no contact with Tom until his mother received a call on April 14, 2019 from a minister that came upon Tom homeless in Yuba, City. He sent her a video of him that was shot in front of the shuttered Toys R Us store at 700 A W Onstott Frontage Rd, Yuba City, CA. The minister contacted her at least every other day for six weeks until contact stopped in mid-May of 2019. She has been trying to reach him by phone, text, and email. He will not respond to her request for help, which we find odd. She needs information about what happened to Tom and where she can find him. She called all surrounding area coroners’ offices, sheriffs’ offices, hospitals and funeral homes from Yuba City to Sacramento. There is no notice of her son dying on Aug. 26, 2017.
If anyone knows anything about Tom, we are desperately in need of information.
Thank you for any help you can offer.”