Search for missing boys shifts to Nevada
CEDAR CITY, Utah – The search for the last two boys who escaped from a wilderness camp shifted Tuesday to Ely, Nev., where one of boys supposedly called his girlfriend asking her to wire money.
Iron County Sheriff David Benson said the girl called a deputy Monday night expressing concern about her boyfriend and saying he had just requested the wire transfer.
Police are trying to determine whether the tip is genuine or an attempt to throw them off the boys’ trail.
”Is it legitimate?” Benson said. ”We don’t know. But we have a deputy tracking that down. We have to extinguish all of our leads.”
The two teen-agers are part of a group of eight who allegedly assaulted their counselors and escaped on Saturday. Six of the boys have been apprehended.
The wire transfer lead fits an account from one of the captured boys. That boy told deputies the other two were headed in the general direction of Ely when they split up near Beaver County, Utah.
Ely is 140 miles from where the teens overpowered their counselors during an extended wilderness program for troubled youths. One boy was captured in Ely on Monday after he hitched a ride there with a trucker.
Benson said he was fairly certain the two boys still on the lam have left the Utah desert overlapping Iron and Beaver counties where they escaped.
An intensive search of that area was put on hold Tuesday.
The teen-age boys are accused of beating counselor Kirk Stock, a 23-year-old counselor, with sticks and binding him with duct tape, then tying counselor Sunshine Fuller, 22, to a tree.
Benson said all eight boys will be charged with felony aggravated assault, simple assault and theft of a two-way radio that has yet to be recovered.
The group of 14- to 17 year-olds was about halfway through a 60-day survival outing. They escaped into the Utah desert with blankets and food.
One boy who became ill was found Saturday. Five others were captured Monday, tired, cold and hungry.
”They just didn’t want to be out camping,” said Stock, an instructor for RedCliff Ascent Inc., which takes troubled teens sent by their parents or courts to the mile-high desert of southwest Utah. ”They had it figured out.”
The boys split up during their escape, making it harder for authorities to round them up.
Wearing heavy wool and fleece clothing, the boys took blankets, medical supplies and two sacks of food containing lentils, rice, oats, wheat flour, dried beans, bouillon cubes and dried chili.
But they left in a hurry, leaving behind their rucksacks and sleeping bags and surviving nights as cold as 3 degrees. They had a week’s worth of food that could be rationed for as long as a month, Stock said, and several quarts of water.
”We’ve had kids run before, but they didn’t do it this way,” he said.
It was at least the third time this year boys had escaped from the program. But never before had an entire group turned on the staff or resorted to violence, officials said.
The boys, whose names were not released, came from Silverton, Ore.; Plainfield, Ill.; Austin, Texas; Wynnewood, Pa.; Kildeer, Ill.; and Greenwich, Conn., and two unspecified towns in California and New York, according to Utah officials.