A missing Georgia teenager who investigators say was lured away from his home by a suspect he met playing online videogames was located by the FBI five days later hiding in an upstate New York closet.
Jahon Zorian Fuller, a 16-year-old with autism, was located on Tuesday, according to an announcement by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, which had been searching for the missing teen who investigators said was last seen leaving his home in Dodge County, Georgia, on Oct. 27. He was believed to have left out of his own volition, the sheriff’s office said when he was first reported missing.
His father, Dion Fuller, told investigators he woke up around 4 a.m. to find Jahon, who has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, was gone, WGCL-TV reported. Because Fuller does not easily speak with strangers, has no friends and mostly plays videogames on his PlayStation, family immediately suspected someone had lured him away from Douglasville.
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FBI agents later located Fuller hiding in a closet inside a home in Eastchester, New York, located in Westchester County about 20 miles north of Manhattan, his mother, Lashawnda Collins, told Fox 5 DC. Collins said the suspect had developed an online relationship with her son, which somehow went undetected despite her making an effort to monitor his online activity.
“Oh my God I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘In New York?’” Collins said, recalling when investigators contacted her about where they found the missing teen.
Mark Valente, 26, was taken into custody in New York and is awaiting extradition to Georgia.
“Through the investigation we found out he met someone on the game system,” Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. Trent Wilson told Fox 5 DC. “That person came from New York to get him and take him back to New York with him.”
Detectives managed to track down Fuller after his brother received strange Instagram messages from him a day after the autistic teen went missing. One text message supposedly written by Fuller said, “I’m heading west to get a easier job since the south has higher poverty rates I saved up cash secretly tell mom and dad I’m fine.” But his mother insisted Jahon has never had a job.
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His family also provided Fox 5 with a copy of a handwritten note supposedly left by Jahon that read: “I’m going west to improve my own life by finding work. Goodbye. I love you.” After Jahon went missing, Collins said she searched his PlayStation but all Jahon’s online messaging had been deleted.