Volunteers scour St. James area for missing 13-year-old boy

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ST. JAMES, MO (KPLR) - Volunteers in St. James, Missouri took advantage of the holiday to organize a search party to look for a 13-year-old boy with autism who vanished two months ago this week.

More than 50 searchers, dressed in orange, resumed the search for Johnathan Shay, who walked away from a relative`s home on July 9.

Orange is his favorite color.

Shay disappeared with his 11-year-old cousin, who was found the next day.

He said had not seen Shay for several hours, and no one has seen any sign of him since.

Shay had gone missing before, but had always been found within a few hours.

Based on what his cousin told authorities however, police believe Shay left home not wanting to be found.

But the leader of the search finds that hard to believe.

"He`s a child living with autism that wandered off, he didn`t run away. Not all children with autism wander," said Laura Wilesky. "The children with autism, they don`t plan it, he`s not a runaway and he is out there somewhere. We just need enough people willing to step up to help find him," she said.

On Monday, the plan was to check areas not checked before, especially cabins.

They have also been looking particularly hard near creeks and streams because he is known to have a fascination with water.

Shay`s mom, who says she goes out looking for him every day, admits she is losing hope.

"Unless somebody was feeding him or he was staying close to the spring water and food supply, he wouldn`t know how to survive out there," said Melissa Perkins.

Searchers have gone looking for Shay several times before and have also been putting up flyers in hunting areas and even used a billboard to keep his name and face before the public.

Shay is five feet, two inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray shirt, dark blue shorts and black tennis shoes.

Anyone who thinks they`ve seen him should call the Phelps County Sheriff`s Department.

Google Map for coordinates 37.997264 by -91.614322.

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