Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

Feb 28, 2024, 6:35 PM

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona, according to New Mexico State Police.

The 13-year-old turned up at a Walmart in Deming on Tuesday after going missing the night before from his family’s home in Tucson. In hopes of identifying the young man, authorities in New Mexico posted a picture on social media seeking the public’s help.

New Mexico State Police said that within minutes, someone recognized the teen from an earlier post by the Tucson Police Department. They confirmed Wednesday that the teen had been reunited with his family and was safely back at home.

“Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible by sharing, commenting, and spreading the word,” New Mexico State Police said in a social media post.

The family shared their gratitude for police and the community on social media. They have no idea how the teen was able to get to Deming.

“My mom woke up, and he was no longer in the house. The front door was unlocked, and he was just gone,” the boy’s brother, Mikel Desmond, told Albuquerque television station KRQE.

The family contacted police, searched nearby areas and created a missing person flyer that they shared online. As the hours passed, Desmond said he started to lose hope of finding his brother. He said even if someone would have given the teen a phone and told him to call home, he wouldn’t be able to because he can’t communicate verbally.

It was Tuesday evening when the family got the call from authorities in New Mexico after the boy had been checked out at a local hospital.

Desmond said his brother had turned up at the Walmart, where he tried to buy food and drinks but didn’t have any money. The teen then reportedly went to hide in the bathroom and was later found by law enforcement.

“It’s amazing how fast news can spread through social media,” Desmond said. “And we never would have thought that we would have had so many people reach out and ask ways they can help.”

The family drove three hours each way to pick up the boy and bring him home.

Tucson police said they are investigating the boy’s travels.

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