Each day Jake Wilson remains missing we grow more apprehensive.
It’s been six days since the La Porte City 16-year-old disappeared after he took a walk to Wolf Creek, a few blocks away from home. Jake has autism with a mild intellectual disorder and functions at a 9-year-old level, his mother said.
We’re not surprised at the outpouring of support from residents of the Cedar Valley or their willingness to take action by volunteering for organized searches.
Nor are we surprised with the diligence of local law enforcement officials and officers — as well as those who have come from outside agencies in efforts to find the missing teen.
We’ve seen these actions before.
The plight of the missing teen can’t help but bring back painful memories. It’s been more than five years since cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey, then 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, were abducted after going for a bike ride in Evansdale. Several months later, their bodies were discovered at the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County.
This week we were touched by the presence of Drew Collins, the father of Elizabeth Collins. He stopped by the command center at the La Porte City fire station to visit with Megan Neiswonger, Jake Wilson’s mother.
“I just came to talk to the family and offer my support,” Collins said. “There’s not a whole lot I can do, but I can empathize with them as somebody who has gone through it before.”
We’re sure it means a lot.
Collins received training through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to consult with families of children who have disappeared. He volunteers across the country for the organization’s Team Hope.
And hope is what we are hanging onto right now. The hope Jake can be reunited with his family. There are a lot of people working very hard who have that same wish.
They have been searching neighborhoods, scouring wooded areas, wading into water, using all-terrain vehicles and horses in their search efforts.
“People are still optimistic,” La Porte City Police Chief Chris Brecher said about the volunteers. “You can’t ask for a better crowd than we’ve been getting. The people have been very strong and willing to go out into the elements and put a lot of miles on. You can’t thank them enough.”
In addition to the hundreds of volunteers who have been signing in for daily searches, hundreds of leads have been received.
“We’ve added DCI agents, we’ve added FBI agents from as far away as Milwaukee,” Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said this week. “We have members from National Missing and Exploited Children. We have DCI agents whose specialty is child enticement. We have quite a robust amount of investigators.”
Like the rest of the Cedar Valley, we are hoping for the safe return of Jake Wilson. Meanwhile, we remain steadfast in our support of all those law enforcement officers and specialists who have been busy searching for answers.
We are grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who feel compelled to participate in searches — whether organized or on their own.
And we pray these massive efforts can help bring Jake home.