ST. JAMES, Mo— Since June 9, 2015, family, friends, law enforcement, and volunteers of all ages have helped in the search for a missing autistic boy in St. James. Click play below to listen to KMZU’s Ashley Johnson visit with the missing 13 year old’s Uncle, Jason Studdard:
Johnathan Shay, 13, a boy living with autism, has been missing for over three months now. Shay and his cousin Xavier wandered into a heavily wooded area near Maramec Spring Park, on a mission to find their way to St. Louis after Shay’s cousin bullied him to lead the way.
“My nephew went missing July 9th, around 7:30 that evening with his cousin,” Shay’s Uncle, Jason Studdard, explained how the situation began, “I want to say probably around 8:00-8:30, the Sheriff’s Department showed up. They found my nephew’s cousin, Xavier, around 1:30 on Friday and they didn’t find my nephew with him. I guess Xavier said they split up.”
During Studdard’s interview, he stated he had been told Xavier was mad about an incident that had taken place earlier in the day and decided to run away. Studdard said Xavier told Shay to show him how to get to St. Louis and that if he didn’t, they could not be friends anymore.
Studdard continued, explaining Shay and his probable want not to lose a friend as well as the excitement he may have felt for exploration.
“My nephew’s autistic, he’s interested in outdoors and everything and I guess it kind of was a little bit of an excitement to him, so of course he liked it,” said Studdard, “But yeah, they never found him that day and so far they still haven’t found him.”
Searches continued every day for at least a month after Shay went missing. Studdard said his sister, Shay’s mother, is not giving up on finding her boy.
A K9 officer was brought in once after a search revealed a wet t-shirt, warranting a scent trail that ended with no findings and no new leads.
Another search has been scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, October 10, 2015 as well as a candle light vigil to “Light Johnathan’s Way Home,” that evening.
To learn more about the search area and the vigil as well as what else will be going on during the day, visit Facebook.com/findjohnathanshay.