A search continues for a 16-year-old Hancock County resident who reportedly ran away from his house earlier this week has led to a lookout for his whereabouts since Wednesday.
The youth, whom family members say is mentally challenged, has been seen several times in a thickly wooded area along U.S. Highway 441 and Pea Ridge Road.
“But we haven’t been able to get him to come out of the woods,” according to Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills. “Every time he’s spotted by some of our deputies, he turns away from them and goes right back into the woods.”
The sheriff said the teen was not wanted for a crime.
“We’re just trying to help locate him for family members because they are very concerned about him,” Sills said.
The sheriff said deputies with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and Hancock County Sheriff’s Office were involved in looking for the teen, too, since he ran away from a residence in the Deveraux Community of Hancock County early Wednesday.
Relatives said the teen was living with his uncle, Cedric Harris.
“We have no clue on how he got over here to Putnam County,” Catina West told The Union-Recorder on Thursday night. “We saw him about 30 minutes before dark (on Thursday).”
At the time, he was several hundred yards away from the intersection of U.S. 441 and Pea Ridge Road in Putnam County.
“He came out of the woods, and she (Catina) and the deputies went toward him and he went right back into the woods,” said Michael West, Catina’s husband.
Sills said the teen had done the same thing repeatedly with deputies and firefighters with Putnam County Fire Rescue since he was first spotted along the woodline of the major highway.
Tracking dogs have been used each time the teen has been spotted, but to no avail as of press time Friday afternoon.
Catina identified the teen as her first cousin, Sammy Ray McDowell.
Michael said McDowell is wearing all black clothing, including his shoes, and a black coat.
Anyone who spots the teen is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in Eatonton at 706-485-3014.