It’s been 11 days since a young man with autism from northeast Iowa vanished without a trace. Sixteen-year-old Jake Wilson was last seen leaving his home in La Porte City on foot the night of April 7th. Kris Steinmetz, spokeswoman for the Autism Society of Iowa, notes how family members said Jake wanted to visit a nearby stream.
“Those with autism are often drawn to bodies of water, moving water, that is common,” Steinmetz says. “The other side of that is that they don’t always have a good sense of safety or safety skills or how to keep themselves safe which makes it very difficult for a family who has a family member like that.” Hundreds of volunteers joined in the initial searches for Jake, a search which is now being handled by a scaled-back group of law officers in Black Hawk County. Steinmetz says people with autism can be very focused and will wander from home.
“They will really have an idea or a place they want to be or something they want to do and will do whatever it takes to get there,” she says. “My heart just breaks for this family because I understand this is something he’s done before.” Steinmetz says there is another reason why he may have wandered away.
“Even though he’s a teenager, his ability to think and reason is more of a nine-year-old,” she says. “They have already looked into this. Maybe he’s hiding because he’s scared. Maybe he’s hiding because he thinks he might get into trouble for not being home.”
Anyone with information on Wilson’s whereabouts is asked to call the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Department at 319-291-2515.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)