Christina George

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August 24, 2013
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Bound for college in Arizona, teen goes missing in Douglas County

The father of a missing Arizona teenager, whose SUV was found abandoned Wednesday in Riddle, distributed photos of his son Friday and Saturday in Douglas County, hoping someone saw something.

“There are no clues,” David Croom said Saturday afternoon while standing in the parking lot of the Roseburg Costco. “It’s just absolutely mysterious where he’s at.”

Johnathan Austin Croom, 18, had been in the Seattle area visiting a female friend and was on his way back to begin classes at Mesa Community College, his father said.

Authorities originally reported that Johnathan Croom was driving from Arizona to attend college in Lynwood, Wash. He was actually due to start school Aug. 19 in Mesa.

“He was supposed to be going home, and it’s a mystery. Even his friends are just very worried. They don’t understand what happened either,” David Croom said.

Johnathan Croom was last heard from Aug. 17 and was due back in Arizona the next day, according to his family.

On Wednesday, the 2000 Honda CR-V he was driving was found on Yokum Road, parked 2 1/2 miles from Interstate 5 in a residential area, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies contacted David Croom in Phoenix to tell him the vehicle had been found. David Croom said he immediately got on a plane and took a taxi from Eugene to Riddle, where he picked up the Honda and began passing out fliers with information about his son and offering a $5,000 reward. “Please help us find this amazing young man!” the flier pleads.

“He’s just gone. We don’t know what’s happened,” David Croom said. “I’m pretty freaked out. I haven’t had time to do a lot of crying. I have a terrible pain in my chest. I’m not going to be satisfied until I know he’s OK.”

He said the Honda was unlocked, and the keys were gone. But some cash was in the car, as well as his son’s identification.

The car was in good condition except for damage to a windshield that occurred on his son’s trip to Seattle, he said.

Johnathan Croom is described as 6 feet tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and “bouncy” brown hair. He may have been carrying a multicolored backpack.

David Croom said his son may have gone for a hike into the wilderness. He said he can think of no reason his son would have left the highway at Riddle.

On Saturday, three friends from Seattle helped David Croom distribute the fliers in Roseburg. He said he believes the best search party is the public.

“We’re just trying to talk to people,” he said. “There’s not a lot more that we can do.”

David Croom said he believes his son was wearing only a T-shirt and shorts.

Johnathon Croom’s mother, Monica Croom, said Friday that her son was traveling alone and had left the Seattle area around Aug. 16, The Associated Press reported.

“This is totally out of character,” she said. “He walked away from his car. The car did not break down. It was not out of gas.”

She said her son is “super smart” and “awesome with computers” and graduated early from Apache Junction High School. He was living with his brother in Mesa and left for Seattle July 30, she said.

The flier distributed by David Croom pictures Johnathan Croom with a wide smile.

“He’s pretty happy, and he always has a smile,” David Croom said.

The sheriff’s office asked that anyone with information about Johnathan Croom’s whereabouts to call 541-440-4471.

• Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or Rporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or

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The News-Review Updated Aug 26, 2013 02:44PM Published Aug 26, 2013 02:08PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.