A 19-year-old who disappeared from his family’s home in California nearly three years ago has been found in Utah, sparking surprise and relief among his parents, who feared they would never see him again
SALT LAKE CITY — A 19-year-old who disappeared from his family’s home in California nearly three years ago has been found in Utah, sparking surprise and relief among his parents, who feared they would never see him again.
Connerjack Oswalt was shaking and freezing when sheriff’s deputies found him sleeping at a convenience store in Summit County, known for its ski resorts, on Saturday, Sheriff Justin Martinez said. Oswalt appears to have been living on the streets there for about two weeks.
His family had been searching for him for years, handing out flyers, scouring social media and frantically following up unsuccessful leads. They even moved back to his native town of Idaho Falls in hopes that he would eventually make it back there.
“Any suggestion of anything remotely resembling him would be investigated,” said his stepfather, Gerald Flint. “It was a real nightmare.”
Oswalt, who was diagnosed with autism and other mental illnesses, was 17 when he left the family home in Clearlake, California. His mother, Suzanne Flint, remembered making quesadillas, but by the time it came time for lunch, he was gone.
“I never stopped looking for him. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t go looking for him in some form or way,” she said. The exact circumstances of his disappearance and whereabouts over the past two years are being investigated, police said.
What his family does know is that after the deputies found Oswalt at the grocery store in Utah, they asked if he’d like to come in their squad car and warm up. He agreed and eventually had officers take a fingerprint.
That led her to an outstanding February arrest warrant in Nevada.
“MPs just felt there was something there, something beyond a warrant. There was a humanitarian effort that needed further investigation,” Martinez said.
Officers went to work, sifting through the paperwork and looking for reports of missing and vulnerable children. About 16 pages later, they found a 2019 missing persons report from Clearlake, California. Although the name was spelled slightly differently than the Nevada warrant, the photos matched and they called his family.
When the Flints first got the call, they were concerned that their son had been found dead. After his wife confirmed the birthmark identification, Gerald Flint left work, jumped in his car, and drove four hours to Utah.
“Everyone in the room was in tears. They did everything and worked for hours,” he said. “They could have dismissed it, but they didn’t, and that made all the difference in the world.”
Social workers knowledgeable about autism took over Oswalt’s care after he was reunited with his family, Lt. Andrew Wright of the Summit County Sheriff. His family hopes to take him home soon.
“We didn’t treat him like a criminal. We were treated as someone who had something deeper that we needed to delve into,” Martinez said. “That intuition really reunited this family.”
https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/utah-deputies-find-man-disappeared-teen-california-84112386 Utah lawmakers find man who disappeared in California when he was a teenager