ST. JAMES, MO (KPLR) - The family of a missing 13-year-old spent another night searching near St. James, Mo. Johnathan Shay is autistic. He wondered off with his cousin last week. His cousin returned, but Shay did not come back home.
“He’s off his meds,” said Melissa Perkins, Johnathan’s mother. “He might be a little bit paranoid. He might be thinking people are out there to get him, and he’s just in survival mode.”
The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol have been actively searching an area spanning hundreds of acres. Searchers say the area includes cliffs, caves, creeks and thorn bushes. Family members say Shay is attracted to water.
“In some places it almost takes an act of god to get through,” said family friend Cathy Micheli. “I’ve been out every single day hunting these woods like there’s no tomorrow, walking the creeks and ridges just trying to find him.”
Shay wondered off with his cousin who safely returned last week. There have been several sightings of Shay, but searchers believe he is trying to hide from rescuers.
“Just come home,” said Micheli. “Everybody misses you. We’re worried.”
Family and friends believe Shay is without a shirt and is wearing blue shorts with light blue stripes. Searchers have focused their efforts on an area near the intersection of county roads 3450 and 3470 near St. James. Anyone with information can contact the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department at 573-308-1213.