The boys went missing from the 10000 block of County Road 3470, south of St. James. PCSD reported that it was “believed they walked away from the residence.”
The Everbridge mass notification system, used by Phelps County to alert citizens about emergencies, sent out an alert about the missing boys around 10:45 a.m. Friday. The family and friends of the boys organized a private search for the boys via social media early Friday afternoon. Law enforcement officers also continued to search.
Baylor was located by searchers from the Highway Patrol approximately 1:15 p.m. near the Dry Fork Creek in St. James. In a press release from Phelps County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD), locals were asked to pay “special attention in St. James and areas south of St. James for Johnathan L. Shay.”
Baylor’s step-mother, Julie Baylor, reported on the St. James Leader-Journal’s Facebook page, in response to questions about why the boys separated, “Xavier said he’d been trying to convince Johnathan to give up, but he wouldn’t. When Xavier decided not to go any further, Johnathan left on his own. Xavier has tried to help searching and finding where they had last been together, but it’s easy to get turned around in the woods and he’s only 11.”
Baylor’s mother, Andrea Lewis, reported on the St. James Leader-Journal’s Facebook page, in response to the same questions, that Baylor “has already talked with law enforcement numerous times and has helped them with trying to find his cousin” and “they split up the next morning sometime because Xavier wanted to go back.”
According to the endangered person advisory issued around 2 a.m., Friday, for the two boys, Shay “has run away before and was found approximately 12 hours later in poor condition.”
Shay is a white male and is 5 feet, 2 inches tall. He weighs 100 pounds and has brown hair, hazel eyes and was last seen wearing a gray T-shirt, dark blue shorts and black tennis shoes. PCSD, the Highway Patrol, and the friends and family of Shay report that Shay has autism.
Local media, including the The Rolla Daily News, St. James Leader-Journal and the Waynesville Daily Guide shared the story on their Facebook and Twitter pages early Friday morning, prompting thousands of shares and people offering to help search.
Captain Rick Hope, of the PCSD, told the Leader-Journal, Sunday afternoon, that PCSD was not turning volunteer searchers away, but could not have them in the woods because it could interfere with the dogs trying to locate Shay’s scent. Volunteer searchers are being encouraged to drive the roads in the surrounding area in the hopes of finding Shay when or if he comes out of the woods.
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