MARLBORO, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An autistic teenager returned home to New Jersey on Wednesday evening after being missing for a week.
Michael Karwan arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport with his father and mother. Karwan, 19, of Marlboro, was found in a homeless shelter in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday evening.
He had vanished from his home on Tuesday, Nov. 19, police said. Karwan left his home without a coat, gloves or hat.
Karwan’s family said at a news conference Wednesday they have not yet asked him any questions about his disappearance because he still seems disoriented.
“We really don’t know at this point,” his father, Walter Karwan, told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Jim Smith. “Michael’s still confused a little bit. I want to really give him time to sort everything out.
“I can’t express how happy we are that we found him. I probably aged 10 or 15 years over the seven days, but that’s OK.”
Karwan was reunited with his parents in Ohio before flying home. His family held him especially close as they arrived at Newark Airport, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.
“We embraced. We cried. And I just told him that I loved him,” Walter Karwan said.
Karwan did not speak to reporters.
The teen had left his family’s home after reportedly getting into an argument with his parents because he did not want to do his homework, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who assisted in the search for the teen.
His disappearance sparked an intensive search that included the Marlboro, Cleveland and New York City police departments, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey Transit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the FBI and a host of volunteer organizations.
Karwan left his home and traveled by bus from Monmouth County to Manhattan and then continued on to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh before arriving in Cleveland, authorities said.
“He kind of walked out,” Walter Karwan said. “Anxiety took over, and he was just moving from one place to another.”
Karwan boarded a bus to Marlboro, Ohio, perhaps believing it was headed to Marlboro, N.J.
He has never been on his own before or run away, his family said.
Karwan arrived in Cleveland on Saturday and checked into a shelter run by the Volunteers of America after trying to get into an overcrowded men’s shelter run by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries, prosecutors said.
“It’s an emergency shelter. It’s youths ages 18 to 24. We try to stabilize them; employment, housing, training, job training, things of that nature,” shelter CEO, Dennis Kresak explained.
An employee from the LMM men’s shelter contacted authorities after realized he recognized Karwan from a Facebook post about his disappearance, prosecutors said.
“With Michael Karwan safely reunited with his parents, we all have a little more to give thanks for this Thanksgiving holiday,” said Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. “I personally want to thank everyone who played a role in the search for Michael and his safe return, especially the news media that helped get the word out about Michael.”
Karwan’s family had offered a $25,000 reward for the missing teen.
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