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Utah deputies find man who disappeared as a teenager in California

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 19-year-old who disappeared from his family’s California home nearly three years ago has been found in Utah, bringing amazement and relief to his parents who feared he was no longer never see him again.

Connerjack Oswalt was shivering and cold when sheriff’s deputies passed him sleeping Saturday at a convenience store in Summit County, known for its ski areas, Sheriff Justin Martinez said. Oswalt appeared to be living on the streets for about two weeks.

His family had been searching for him for years, handing out flyers, scanning social media and desperately searching for fruitless leads. They even returned to his hometown of Idaho Falls, hoping he would eventually return there.

“Any hint of anything remotely resembling him, we would follow up,” said his stepfather, Gerald Flint. “It was a real nightmare.”

Oswalt, who has been diagnosed with autism and other mental health issues, was 17 when he left his family home in Clearlake, California. His mother, Suzanne Flint, remembered making quesadillas, but by lunchtime he was gone.

“I never stopped looking for him. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t sought it out, in one form or another,” she said. The exact circumstances of his disappearance and his whereabouts for the past two years are under investigation, police said.

What his family knows is that after deputies found Oswalt at the convenience store in Utah, they asked him if he wanted to come in their patrol car and warm up. He agreed and eventually let the officers take a fingerprint.

This led them to an outstanding February term in Nevada.

“Deputies just felt there was something there, something beyond a criminal warrant. There was a humanitarian effort that needed to be explored further,” Martinez said.

Officers got to work sifting through paperwork, looking for reports of missing and endangered children. About 16 pages later, they found a 2019 missing person’s report from Clearlake, California. Although the spelling of the name was slightly different than the Nevada warrant, the photos matched and they called his family.

When the Flints first received the call, they feared their son had been found dead. After his wife confirmed the identification with a birthmark, Gerald Flint left work, jumped in his car, and drove four hours to Utah.

“Everyone in the room was in tears. They went above and beyond, put in hours of work,” he said. “They could have ignored it, but they didn’t and it made all the difference in the world.”

Social workers knowledgeable about autism took over Oswalt’s care after reuniting with his family, Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said. His family hopes to bring him home soon.

“We didn’t treat him like a criminal. We treated like someone who had something deeper to dig into,” Martinez said. “That intuition is what really brought this family together.”

The Huffington Gt

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