Missing boy prompts hours-long search

NEW PALESTINE — A search party combed New Palestine neighborhoods for an hour and a half Tuesday night, with a police search plane overhead and police dogs on the ground, looking for a boy with special needs who wandered 2 miles from home.

A 13-year-old boy with autism walked away from his home in the 2200 block of Logan Drive in New Palestine just after 7 p.m., prompting his parents to call 911 when they couldn’t find him in the house.

Police found the boy, unharmed, walking along Richman Court around 8:30 p.m.

The boy’s parents told police he had become angry after being asked to clean up the yard of the family’s home, dispatch records show.

The boy had been missing for about 30 minutes when his parents called 911, saying they had not been able to find him in their home or neighborhood.

More than 20 first responders from several county agencies flocked to New Palestine, in possession of a description of the boy and a warning that he might become upset if confronted by a stranger.

Police-dog units in Indianapolis and Hamilton County were called to the area, and an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department plane and Indiana State Police Department helicopter took to the air to aid in the search.

Misty Moore, the director of Hancock County Emergency Management, was called to help law enforcement organize volunteer search groups. Members of emergency management’s roster of volunteers were called to the area around 7:30 p.m.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department led search efforts, calling in half a dozen of its reserve deputies to help out. Officers credited teamwork among area agencies, as well as friends and neighbors, with the boy’s safe return, Capt. Robert Campbell said.

Moore was pleased that her crew of volunteers sprang into action quickly, as well. A handful of emergency management’s 45-member roster of volunteers were en route to the scene when the boy was found.

Investigators believe the boy was headed toward Sugar Creek Elementary School, following the route his school bus usually takes, when he was found.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.