ST. CLAIR, MO (KTVI) - A long night for some parents ended with two children being found about 12 hours after they were last seen at their home near St. Clair, Missouri.
Scotty “Ross” Warner, 11, and Erica Linsley, 13, left home around 9:45pm Wednesday. The two are neighbors and play together. Their siblings last saw them near Linsley’s house around 9:30 Wednesday night.
Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke spoke to the media early Thursday morning as search crews gathered to look for the kids.
Around 9:30am, Warner walked up to his home and found police vehicles and search crews in his driveway. He talked with officials and let them know he was ok and where he had last seen Linsley. He then helped those crews begin searching for the girl.
Video from Bommarito Automotive SkyFOX showed the boy leading rescuers around a heavily wooded area near the river.
Toelke told reporters in an interview that Warner said the two kids had left Wednesday night because they were fed up with their siblings.
About half an hour after Warner appeared, Linsley was located hiding under a porch of a house, but she was scared by all the law enforcement officials and would not come out.
It was a sleepless night for Michelle Warner, the mother of the 11 year old boy, “I was freaking out the whole night.”
Seventy searchers were involved in the operation. It went on all night long until the boy was caught sneaking into his home this morning to get food. He said, “I wasn’t lost. Madden: You just wanted to get away from the family for a while. Warner: Yeah.”
He said his little brother Jacob was aggravating him and Erika’s sibling was bothering her so they went off into the woods. Scotty Ross Warner and his brother both have learned something from the experience. Scotty Ross Warner said, “Not to go in the woods after dark.” Jacob added, “I’m not going to aggravate him again.”
His mother was grateful to all the searchers. Michelle Warner said, “I say thank you like so much because they were out here crazy combing all this and we couldn’t find him. “
The sheriff turned the case over to juvenile authorities. Sheriff Gary Toelke said, “I don’t know if it wouldn’t hurt at all if juvenile could get involved somehow that the kids get some counseling of some type.” Jacob Warner added, “I’m happy he’s home.” Erika’s family declined to be interviewed but her mother said she was also thankful for all the help from searchers.
Toelke said the kids will be interviewed about their whereabouts overnight.
Personnel from four different law enforcement agencies and MoDOT helped in the search of the Meramec River, the surrounding woods and homes.
Franklin County dedicated a lot of manpower and equipment to the search. Boats left the mobile command post parked at the St. Clair Fire Protection Station #3. There were ATV operators and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Around 8:00am Thursday, the Eureka Fire Protection District arrived from more than 25 miles away.
Police were worried Thursday morning about the safety of the kids. “There’s a lot of mine shafts, the cave, the river.” Toelke pointed out. “The little boy, he really liked to play in the area. One thing that is positive is he knows the area very well. But the fact that he hasn’t come back home, we don’t know if he’s hiding from us or if both of them have fallen in a hole somewhere. Like I said, it’s just anybody’s guess.”
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