10-year-old autistic East Grand Forks boy goes missing
EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. - The cries of “Anthony! Anthony!” came from law enforcement officers and volunteers walking through farm fields and wooded lots Wednesday around a rural residential strip south of East Grand Forks, searching for a lost boy.
Anthony Kuznia, 11, went missing about 2 p.m. from his home. Despite hundreds of searchers, including a dozen or more law enforcement and firefighting agencies, the boy still was missing as night ended the search.
“We’re going to keep searching until dark, then regroup and decide what we are going to do in the morning,” Polk County Sheriff Barb Erdman said about 8:30 p.m.
Anthony has autism and is known to like exploring tents, RVs, cave-like structures and basements of neighboring residents, Erdman said family members told her.
He has been known to wander off and hide before, she said.
Erdman is in charge of the large multi-agency effort that included U.S. Border Patrol agents and aircraft and Minnesota State Patrol resources, as well as hundreds of volunteers in swelling numbers as afternoon turned to evening. The boy’s home is about two miles south of East Grand Forks, about three-fourths of a mile east of the Red River.
Erdman said the boy’s grandmother reported him missing about 2:10 p.m.
“He was in the house and told her he was going to go outside,” Erdman said. He said he was going to play in the older RV camper parked near the front porch of the house, but when the grandmother came out to look for him, she couldn’t find him.
Anthony was wearing a gray T-shirt with black lettering and plaid shorts, the grandmother told Erdman.
He was described as white, about 5 feet tall and 94 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
“She at first said he was 10, then she remembered he had just had a birthday,” Erdman said of the grandmother, who spent much of the afternoon sitting on the front porch.
Despite his autism, Erdman said, “I was told he is quite social.”
People who know him, including neighbors and an educator who worked with him in the classroom, said Anthony has difficulty walking and expressing himself.
Mounted posses from Polk and Marshall counties used horses and four-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicles in the search, and dozens of officers from several nearby agencies helped in the search, with vehicles parked for a mile and more along roads.
Erdman made urgent pleas Wednesday afternoon, through the media and a “Red Code” alert that went out to homes via email and telephone, asking people to search their homes and properties, especially RVs, tents, outbuildings and basements.
“We’re really asking for the public’s help on this,” Erdman said.
Family members gathered at Kuznia’s home and many took part in walking the area.
Late in the evening, a family member drove out, passing the checkpoint where a State Patrol officer was regulating traffic.
“We’re all worried, and we’re all missing him,” said the man, his voice showing the strain and emotion of the day.
At 10 p.m., Erdman and other law enforcement officials planned to hold a briefing at the city’s south end fire station.
Anyone with information on the boy’s whereabouts should contact East Grand Forks police at (218) 773-1104 or the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at (218) 281-0431.
Stephen J. Lee | Forum News Service