Jacksonville Police believe the case of four teenagers who reportedly ran away is drawing to a conclusion.
Lieutenant Chris Johnson tells us parents notified the police department yesterday that the children, who all reportedly knew each other, were missing. Johnson says at this time, police believe all of the children have been located.
“We’re still trying to verify that. What we’re trying to do is coordinate with another agency. I do believe it is Pike County, Illinois, that has contacted the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and Jacksonville Police Department, are all working in conjunction. They said they’ve located a vehicle that was used as registered to one of the parents of one of the four kids that ran away,” says Johnson.
“We’re still very early on in this, it’s still very fluid.”
Johnson describes the process of coordinating with law enforcement in Pike County as time-consuming.
“They will send us a message on a computer trying to verify that these are the people that we’re looking for, and then we respond back to them on a computer system as well. I believe some of the officers also have been in phone contact with some of the officers from Pike County as well,” he says.
Johnson says police don’t believe this situation fit the criteria of an abduction.
“There were several interviews that we did yesterday with friends, acquaintances, family members. There was even some notes that were left by some of the kids stating that they’re going on their own free will,” Johnson explains.
“The kids that we interviewed, the friends and acquaintances, said that some of the kids had been talking about this for quite some time. It’s just one of those incidents where the other children didn’t believe that they would actually do it,” he adds.
Although kids running away from home is unfortunately not a new phenomenon to the area, Johnson says he doesn’t remember in his 20 years with the Jacksonville Police Department a situation where this many were involved.
“We were all talking yesterday at the police department. There was a similar incident probably fifteen to twenty years ago, where two kids ran away from the Jacksonville area, and they were gone probably two or three weeks, I believe. But, I’ve never heard of this where four kids all acted in conjunction,” says Johnson.
According to the website for the American Bar Association, is it not a crime to run away from home in Illinois. It’s a crime in nine other states.