La Porte City Operations Scaling Back; Search For Teen Continues
After seven days of an intense search with no results, authorities are scaling back their efforts to find missing autistic teenager Jake Wilson of La Porte City.
Police Chief Chris Brecher made the announcement during a late afternoon press briefing on Saturday (April 14, 2018).
"We are at the point of our operations, now, where we are going to be scaling back significantly," Brecher said. "We have certain check systems in (Wolf) creek that we're going to be continuing to check on a regular basis. As we receive tips and leads from the community and public, we will be able to gather a response team to clear different areas as needed."
Two maps displayed at the press briefing showed the large area searched since Wilson disappeared one week ago. The highlighted area on a large map (at left, below) indicated the nearly 255-square-mile space that scores of volunteers and professional crews checked in around La Porte City over the last week. The area included northern Benton County and a portion of Evansdale. A smaller map (at right, below) showed that all of La Porte City had been checked. >>Story continues below<<
Brecher said authorities and volunteers also searched McFarlane Park near La Porte City, Hickory Hills Park in Tama County, Seven Bridges Wildlife Area near Fairbank, as well as smaller parks and drive-off areas in the region.
"I'm very proud of the people who came forward to help us out," Brecher said. "We cleared so much area, so quickly. The reason we were able to do that was because of the over 2,000 people that we've had helping us doing this whole situation to this point."
Moving forward, the case turns over to Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson's investigative team. Over the next few days, the headquarters for the search will move from the La Porte City fire and police stations to the sheriff's office in Waterloo.
"Every incident gets to this point at some point," Thompson said. "Today, around the planning table, it became very, very clear that we're at this point for this incident."
Thompson reiterated the call for the public to download photos or videos that were taken in La Porte City anytime on Saturday, April 7, the date Wilson went for a walk and didn't return home. The images can be downloaded to the following website: www.fbi.gov/laportecityiowa.
The sheriff noted that a class reunion and bike ride were both held in La Porte City on that Saturday. He said the photos and videos could help investigators find Wilson.
Thompson also asked the public to help investigators with a possible lead they have in the case. Anyone in La Porte City around 8:30 PM on April 7 who saw someone walking in the area of Commercial St. and Bishop Ave. (see map below) is asked to come forward.>>Story continues below<<
“Any direction. We’re looking for descriptions," Thompson said. "We’re looking for confirmation on some other things that have been said.”
Since Wilson went missing, officials have held two press briefings daily. The late afternoon media session on Saturday was the last one planned involving the search. At the end, Thompson was asked how difficult it's been to go seven days without finding Wilson.
"Frustrating," the sheriff said, pausing. He repeated: "Frustrating," then paused again before continuing. "Frustrating more for the family than anything else.
"I told you all that I don't like to lose. This isn't a loss. But this migration, this evolution in this investigation is one that I've been through before."
Thompson then paused again, and said: "Yah, it frustrates me."
Earlier Saturday, family friend Chris Taylor read a prepared statement describing Wilson's favorite activities and thanking everyone for their efforts.
We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have experienced over the past week during this impossibly difficult time for our family. We love Jake and we want him to be home with us.
We would like to share a little bit about Jake. Jake may act like a typical teenager, but he has struggled from the difficulties of mild intellectual disorder, which he has had since birth. As he grew up he displayed odd behaviors that were similar to that of Autism. Even with these challenges, Jake perseveres through the support of family, friends, and the good people of this community. He is able to play sports and even made first place in long jump and second place in softball with the Special Olympics. Jake loves music and performing in choir. The one thing Jake loves to do and dominates at is playing his X-Box just like any other teenager. I am sure most parents can relate to this.
One of his favorite hobbies is exploring nature. Jake is an avid nature lover. He loves to fish and collect all kinds of treasures like antlers, empty shells, and all kinds of other things a teenage boy would collect when being outdoors. His favorite chore is feeding the chickens. He loves visiting his Uncle Chad and Aunt Mel’s acreage and loves getting a turkey or chicken egg while collecting feathers from the coups.
Jake loves going to the park in town and swing. We built a swing for him in our backyard because he loves it so much. Jake loves ice cream. Jake loves being Jake and we love him more than we can possibly describe.
We want Jake to come home. We are at a loss for words for how appreciative we are for everyone’s help in making this happen. During this difficult time we ask that the media, volunteers, and community members to help us get any information that can help us find him.
Jake, we love you and we want you to come home.
Again, thank you everyone for all of your help.