A MISSING autistic teen boy was found dead four months after he vanished in a snow storm wearing only a sweatshirt and pajamas.
The body of 16-year-old Joseph ‘Joey’ Peterson was found approximately four miles from his family’s Casper, Wyoming, home on a prairie hillside.
Natrona County Coroner James Whipps identified Joey’s body shortly after two horseback riders came across a body on Sunday afternoon, Casper Star Tribune reported.
Joey was found barefoot and wearing what he was last seen in.
When he left his family’s home in rural Wyoming on the morning of November 10, he was wearing a red hoodie and pajama pants.
Joey’s family showed their appreciativeness in a press release after their son’s body was discovered.
The statement shared Monday read: “We have been, and continue to be, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, care, and empathy for our family.
“Through our ongoing despair and heartbreak, we continue to be humbled by our community.”
Natrona County Sheriff’s Dept. Investigations Sgt. Taylor Courtney said Joey’s body was likely hidden by sagebrush and tall prairie grass during the initial search – which was called off after 10 days due to winter weather conditions, K2Radio reported.
His disappearance prompted rescuers to search miles of rugged terrain, using Black Hawk helicopters, heat vision equipment, bloodhounds, and drones in their efforts to find the high-functioning autistic teen.
Rescue teams searched nearby bodies of water since many children with autism are drawn to water.
Deputies believed Joey climbed to Casper Mountain’s peak – which was expected to see nearly a foot of snow.
Authorities warned in November that Joey was not self-sufficient and can’t “problem solve at an age appropriate level.”
Sgt. Courtney said Joey’s death appeared to be accidental and non-criminal, but an investigation will continue.
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