Police: Missing Suffolk teen with autism found in Virginia with alleged kidnapper

Police tracked down a missing Suffolk teen with autism in Virginia along with the man who allegedly kidnapped him.

News 12 Staff

Jul 1, 2021, 2:47 AM

Updated 1,018 days ago

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A 15-year-old Sayville boy with autism has been reunited with family members and is on his way back home after police say he was kidnapped and later found in Virginia.
Suffolk police say the teen was reported missing Wednesday after he rode his bike to a Sayville ice cream store. Police say the boy had been chatting online through the video game Minecraft with 19-year-old James Howard Thomas from Tennessee.
Police say Thomas drove to Long Island to pick up the teen and drove south. The two were located sleeping in a vehicle at the Rutherford rest area off Route 81 in Montgomery County, Virginia.
Sources say the two had also used the computer app Discord to communicate. Police say the teen had dismantled his computer, possibly at the suspect's request, to cover their tracks.
Police were notified by the teen's parents once they knew he was missing.
Community members who went looking for the teen say they found his bike at the ice cream store parking lot.
Police say they don't know the motive in the case but say that old-fashioned police work may have prevented a tragedy.
"I want to give a tremendous amount of credit to the 5th Precinct for rapidly finding this young man," says acting Suffolk Police Commissioner Chief Stewart Cameron. "It's obvious that they had traveled out of state. And I believe that by locating him, they very well likely have prevented a tragedy from occurring to this 15-year-old by finding him so rapidly."
Howard is being extradited to Suffolk County to face second-degree kidnapping charges.
NOTE: With the teen now found, the family has requested their name be kept anonymous.


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