A California teenager who went missing three years ago was found this month sleeping outside a gas station in Utah, police said.
Sheriff’s deputies met 19-year-old Connerjack Oswalt in the Park City area on April 9 after someone called to report a man sleeping outside a gas station, Lt. Andrew Wright said from the Summitt County Sheriff’s Office.
When deputies arrived, they scanned Oswalt’s fingerprints and found a warrant for the arrest of a person with a similar name that was issued out of Nevada in February, Wright said, and further searches show them. led to a missing person poster for Oswalt at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Child Database.
Deputies contacted authorities in Clearlake, Calif., where Oswalt was reported missing, and located Oswalt’s mother in Idaho Falls, Wright said, leading to their reunification in Utah.
Oswalt’s mother, Suzanne Flint, told USA TODAY her son left home because “someone told him he could go on a pilgrimage to find himself.”
“We always put all the pieces together and go from what he told us,” Flint said.
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Oswalt, who has autism, was reported missing on Sept. 28, 2019, when he was 17, Clearlake Police Department Lt. Tim Hobbs said.
During his disappearance, several people claimed to have seen him, but none were reported to law enforcement until weeks or months after the incident, police said. The only confirmed Oswalt sighting was in Willows, nearly 70 miles north of Clearlake, Hobbs said.
In the weeks before Oswalt was identified, residents of the Park City area had called the sheriff’s office about a homeless man pushing a cart, Wright said.
“Whenever deputies interacted with Connerjack, he provided no identifying information,” Wright said. “We had no reason to require him to identify himself in previous encounters as he was not breaking the law. However, deputies offered Connerjack resources such as transportation, food etc. He has refused all offers made.
Social workers responded to help Oswalt after he was identified, Wright said.
Investigators still don’t know how he ended up in Utah.
“That remains the big question,” Wright told USA TODAY. “Where has his journey taken him over the past two and a half years? We suspect he didn’t provide credentials because he was afraid of the police.”