Photo: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/Courtesy
A teenager who disappeared nearly three years ago in California was found alive outside a gas station in Utah last week. authorities said.
Connerjack Oswalt, who has autism, went missing in Clearlake on September 28, 2019, when he was 16 years old. He was reported missing to the Clearlake Police Department the next day.
The search for him ended earlier this month after the Summit County Sheriff’s Office found him outside Jeremy’s Store in Summit Park.
“It shocks us all,” Lt. Andrew Wright of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. “It’s just a really miraculous discovery, if you will.”
Several weeks before Oswalt’s identity was confirmed, area residents began calling the sheriff’s office to report that they saw a homeless person pushing a cart. Wright said they don’t have many homeless people in the area because it’s so cold because of the high elevation.
Agents contacted the person several times and offered to help him find shelter, but he always refused and did not give his name, Wright said.
On April 9, a caller called the sheriff’s office and said a young man was sleeping outside a gas station. When the deputies arrived, the person was cold, so they let him warm up in a patrol car. This time, the agents scanned the young man’s fingerprints.
Wright said they received information on a Nevada arrest warrant for assault on a police officer. The order was issued in February, but he misspelled Oswalt’s last name, according to Wright.
Suspecting there was more to the story, Agents did some more digging and found a missing person poster for Oswalt in the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s database. When contacted, both Clearlake police and Oswalt’s mother confirmed that he was still missing.
Oswalt’s family had moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, a few years ago.
“We searched all over California, we had the missing persons centers in the United States, we had the Polly Klaas Foundation and the Department of Justice,” Oswalt’s mother told CBS News. “We have had a lot of false hope in the last two and a half years,” added Oswalt’s stepfather, Gerald Flint.
Hearing the good news, Flint immediately drove from Idaho Falls to Park City to find Connerjack, confirmed his identity, and called Oswalt’s mother to let her know.
“There were no dry eyes in the room,” Sheriff Justin Martinez told CBS. “They have met this individual that they have not seen in three years, when he was 16 years old. He is now 19”.
In footage of the moment Oswalt’s mother learned her son had been found, she can be heard tearfully saying, “My sweetheart is alive.”
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