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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Autistic Teen Missing Over Two Years Found Living on Street; Mom Reveals He Likely Was Given Flawed Advice Before Leaving

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In late September of 2019, 16-year-old Connerjack Oswalt went missing from his home in Clearlake, California.

His parents looked everywhere for Connerjack, who has autism. He was spotted in the California city of Willows a week after going missing, but there was no sign of him after that.

His parents continued to search, checking morgues and reports of unidentified individuals.

“We’ve had a lot of false hope over the last 2 1/2 years,” Oswalt’s stepdad, Gerald Flint, told KSTU-TV.

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The teen’s disappearance seemed to correlate with something he recently had been told: “Someone had allegedly told him he can go on a pilgrimage to find himself,” said his mother, Suzanne Flint, according to USA Today.

Earlier this year — in Park City, Utah — reports of a homeless man kept coming in. Authorities regularly interacted with the man, but they never knew his name or his story.

On April 9, a concerned citizen contacted the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Office after spotting the homeless man. He was cold and sleeping outside a gas station.

This time, the sheriff’s office took the man’s fingerprints when responding, and they found two links. First, that there was a similar-name arrest warrant from Nevada in February, and second, they found a missing-person poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

The homeless man was 19-year-old Connerjack, missing for more than two years.

“Each time deputies interacted with Connerjack, he didn’t provide any identifying information,” said Lt. Andrew Wright of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. “We had no reason to demand that he identify himself on the previous encounters because he was not violating the law. However, deputies offered Connerjack resources such as transportation, food, etc. He refused all offers made.”

Upon discovering that this likely was the missing California teen, authorities reached out to his family, now in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Gerald Flint drove to Park City, where the two were reunited.

The moments after Flint identified Connerjack and informed  his wife were emotional moments for everyone involved.

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“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and we’re talking law enforcement, family members; they had been reunited with this individual they haven’t seen for three years when he was 16. He’s now 19,” Sheriff Justin Martinez said, according to KSTU.

There are gaps in Connerjack’s story, and no one knows how he survived or traveled from California to Utah.

“This remains the big question,” Wright told USA Today. “Where did his journey take him over the past 2 1/2 years? We suspect he didn’t give identifying information because he was scared of police.”

“We’re still fitting all the pieces together, and we’re going off what he’d told us,” Suzanne Flint said, according to USA Today. “We’re just grateful that he’s safe and he’s alive and we have our son back. That’s the most important thing ever for us.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking