Missing Roanoke teen with autism found by local librarian

ROANOKE, Va. – After an hours-long search, a Roanoke teenager with autism is home safe and sound.

Roanoke police say the 14-year-old boy was last seen at his home on Signal Hill Avenue NW around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday. Police tracked his phone to nearby woods, but lost the signal around 8 a.m.

Curley Scott saw the heavy police presence on his way to a doctor’s appointment.

“I saw a lot of police cars parked out. And I saw them walking. It looked like they were just out searching,” said Scott.

State police bloodhounds were called in to help, but around 10:15 a.m., police got a call with good news – a librarian spotted the missing boy at the downtown Roanoke library branch, four miles from home.

“It’s quite a walk. And that’s how we believe he got there,” said Capt. Adam Puckett.

A relief for law enforcement, who say the outcome could have been very different.

“We’ve found children just in very dangerous situations and it could always be bad,” said Puckett. “So it’s such a relief when the child is reunited with the family and no one is harmed.”

Police said the teen will be enrolled in Project Lifesaver, a free program designed to track and rescue those with cognitive impairments, like autism or Alzheimer’s.

“Especially when you’re moving into winter months and you’ve got to deal with the elements that’s outside — the cold, the snow, the rain, things like that — time is of the essence finding them safely. And that’s really what the Project Lifesaver does for us,” said Puckett. “So if this happens in the future, hopefully, we’ll be to find him much quicker.”

10 News spoke with the boy’s mom over the phone. She did not want to talk on camera but wanted to thank everyone for their help finding her son.

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