PARK CITY, Utah (KTVX) – A teenager from California was found safe in Utah more than two years after he was reported missing.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office identified the missing teen as Connerjack Oswalt, 19. He was first reported missing in September 2019 to the Clearlake Police Department in Northern California.
At the time, Oswalt was 16 years old. He was diagnosed with autism in 2014. His family had been searching for him ever since he went missing, handing out fliers, scanning social media and desperately chasing down fruitless leads. They even moved back to the town of his birth, Idaho Falls, hoping he would eventually make it back there.
Recently, Park City, Utah, residents reported spotting an individual pushing a shopping cart around town. Local deputies had encountered Oswalt several times, but said he was never aggressive toward law enforcement nor did he commit any crimes.
Last week, deputies were dispatched to reports of Oswalt sleeping outside a store in Summit County. Authorities found him cold and shivering at the time. He appeared to have been living on the streets there for about two weeks.
Oswalt reportedly did not tell officers his name, so a finger scan was administered to identify him. The scan produced results of a warrant out of Nevada. Authorities say they were suspicious that there was more to the story, so they continued investigating.
After placing Oswalt inside a patrol car to warm up, officials searched the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database where they discovered a listing for Oswalt.
There were discrepancies in the name’s spelling, so authorities reached out to the Oswalt family for confirmation.
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Oswalt’s family drove from Idaho Falls to Summitt County to confirm his identity.
Social workers knowledgeable about autism took over Oswalt’s care after the reunion with his family, said Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright. His family is hoping to bring him back home soon.
“We didn’t treat him as a criminal. We treated as somebody that has something deeper that we needed to dig into,” Sheriff Justin Martinez said. “That intuition is what really reunited this family.”
The Associated Presss contributed to this report.