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UPDATE: Ground, water searches to resume for missing La Porte City teen (VIDEO)

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - 4/21/2018

April 21--La PORTE CITY -- Ground and water searches are ramping up again for a La Porte City teen who was last seen two weeks ago.

Jake Wilson, a 16-year-old boy with autism, disappeared the night of April 7 after his family says the teen told them he wanted to go to nearby Wolf Creek, about two blocks from his home.

Outdoor searches wound down the following weekend, although investigators continued to follow leads, interview people and sift through surveillance videos and photos.

On Friday, La Porte City Police Chief Chris Brecher and Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson announced that searches would resume with trained crews on Saturday and likely continue into Tuesday. They said changes in the weather and changes in the creek and adjacent Cedar River led to the decision.

"With the fluctuations in the creek, it opens up different areas that we were unable to clear before," Brecher said. "It's just to that point where we need to take advantage of (the) warm weather we have to get more feet back onto the ground and into dry suits and back into the water."

He said the area will expand a bit further and go farther down the Cedar River.

Authorities said the search efforts will include drones, watercraft with side-scan sonar, firefighters walking the banks and as many as three dog teams trained to find the scent of human remains.

He said the part of the water search will put in at Vinton and began working north toward La Porte City.

"We are going to take our time, see just about anything we can see, that way if the water is our culprit, hopefully we can find that out, hopefully this weekend," Brecher said.

Thompson also encouraged residents to share photos and videos shot in La Porte on April 7. The material can be uploaded to www.fbi.gov/laportecityiowa . He said the images and footage will be reviewed by FBI analysts. So far the site has had about 100 uploads since it started, he said.

"We've got a timeline that demonstrates a pretty tight window of opportunity where he left the house and supposedly was in route to the creek," Thompson said. He said nothing in the investigation has disproves that theory. He said that window is about 30 minutes.

"We are not disregarding that possibility of an abduction" or other possibilities, Thompson said.

"According to the family, according to what we know about Jake, we are still are leaning, as ever slight as that may be, were are leaning towards the fact that he may have gone down to the creek and something bad happened down there," Thompson said.

Jake's grandfather, Bruce Wilson, attended the Friday press conference.

"I, for one, hope he isn't in the water," Bruce Wilson said, saying he hopes his grandson is alive somewhere. "We have always heard those stories happen. In that way, I hold out hope ... I know God is taking care of him."

Bruce Wilson said the waiting and the uncertainty is getting tougher every day.

"You do go to sleep, but you wake up thinking about it," he said. "You go to bed thinking about it. And knowing how sweet and kind and innocent Jake was, you just wonder. You wonder why or where."

Authorities said the community had been supportive of efforts to find Jake. On Friday morning, the members of the La Porte City Chamber sponsored blue ribbons tied to the city's light poles as a sign of support.

Jake is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 135 pounds with hazel eyes and dark blonde hair. He was wearing a brown zip-up jacket, dark sweatpants and cowboy boots.

He has autism with a mild intellectual disorder and functions at a 9-year-old level, his mother said.

Anyone spotting Jake is asked to call Black Hawk County Dispatch at (319) 291-2515 or local authorities.

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(c)2018 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)

Visit Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) at www.wcfcourier.com

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