In late September of 2019, 16-year-old Connerjack Oswalt went missing from his home in Clearlake, California.
His parents looked everywhere for Connerjack, who has autism. He was spotted in the California city of Willows a week after going missing, but there was no sign of him after that.
His parents continued to search, checking morgues and reports of unidentified individuals.
“We’ve had a lot of false hope over the last 2 1/2 years,” Oswalt’s stepdad, Gerald Flint, told KSTU-TV.
The teen’s disappearance seemed to correlate with something he recently had been told: “Someone had allegedly told him he can go on a pilgrimage to find himself,” said his mother, Suzanne Flint, according to USA Today.
Earlier this year — in Park City, Utah — reports of a homeless man kept coming in. Authorities regularly interacted with the man, but they never knew his name or his story.
On April 9, a concerned citizen contacted the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Office after spotting the homeless man. He was cold and sleeping outside a gas station.
This time, the sheriff’s office took the man’s fingerprints when responding, and they found two links. First, that there was a similar-name arrest warrant from Nevada in February, and second, they found a missing-person poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.
The homeless man was 19-year-old Connerjack, missing for more than two years.
“Each time deputies interacted with Connerjack, he didn’t provide any identifying information,” said Lt. Andrew Wright of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. “We had no reason to demand that he identify himself on the previous encounters because he was not violating the law. However, deputies offered Connerjack resources such as transportation, food, etc. He refused all offers made.”
Upon discovering that this likely was the missing California teen, authorities reached out to his family, now in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Gerald Flint drove to Park City, where the two were reunited.
The moments after Flint identified Connerjack and informed his wife were emotional moments for everyone involved.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and we’re talking law enforcement, family members; they had been reunited with this individual they haven’t seen for three years when he was 16. He’s now 19,” Sheriff Justin Martinez said, according to KSTU.
There are gaps in Connerjack’s story, and no one knows how he survived or traveled from California to Utah.
“This remains the big question,” Wright told USA Today. “Where did his journey take him over the past 2 1/2 years? We suspect he didn’t give identifying information because he was scared of police.”
“We’re still fitting all the pieces together, and we’re going off what he’d told us,” Suzanne Flint said, according to USA Today. “We’re just grateful that he’s safe and he’s alive and we have our son back. That’s the most important thing ever for us.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.