Missing Wylie student found safe; questions surround his disappearance

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by MARJORIE OWENS and CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 8 at 11:56 PM

Missing Wylie teen found

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WYLIE — A missing Wylie High School freshman who was reported missing Friday morning during a band trip to Indianapolis, Ind. was found safe, according to a statement sent at noon Saturday from the school district.

Stephen Colbert, 15, was reported missing Friday morning and had last been seen at about 7 p.m. Thursday after he attended a concert with classmates.

Butler University Police said the teen was found safe in Mooresville, Ind., which is located about 24 minutes south of Indianapolis.

"Miracle in Indiana!" wrote Virdie Montgomery, the principal of Wylie High School on his Facebook. "Stephen is found and safe! Spread the word and PRAISE THE LORD!"

According to the Indianapolis Star, Colbert was spotted at about 11:30 a.m. walking along a highway in Mooresville. He was transported to a nearby hospital to be checked out and was reunited with his mother, Kristen Colbert.

The teen had a cellphone on him, but the battery was dead.

While questions surrounding how the teen traveled to Mooresville remained, celebrations and appreciation that he was found safe were underway Saturday.

"We are extremely relieved that Stephen is back with his family," said Dr. David Vinson, the superintendent with Wylie ISD. "There are still questions, but the important thing is he is safe. I know that the entire Wylie community, and many others, were praying for him and his family and this is an answered prayer. On behalf of the Wylie ISD, thank you to the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, the Butler University Police Department and all the other law enforcement agencies for their efforts and cooperation in helping bring Stephen home."

The teen was in Indianapolis to attend the Music for All National Festival. A total of 63 Wylie High School students attended the festival, which features live performances from young musicians in concert bands, orchestras and percussion ensembles.

Indianapolis police said the teen attended a concert Thursday evening at the Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus.

"We are working with law enforcement officials to assist them in locating the missing student," read an earlier statement from Eric Martin, president and CEO of Music for All. "We won’t rest until we find the student and reunite him with the group. We are referring any additional questions to IMPD at this time."

Colbert was reported missing when he didn't show up for a head count at the hotel. Friends describe him as smart and unlikely to just take off on his own.

District spokesperson Ian Halperin said they were hopeful that Colbert may have just ended up on the wrong bus after Thursday night's concert and hasn't contacted anyone out of fear of getting in trouble. He also said the students were traveling with several parent chaperons, as well as school music directors.

Wylie student Chris Griser said Colbert liked being in the band and was excited about the trip.

"He's just been kind to me and we all just really want him to come back safely," Griser said.

As Indiana authorities looked for the missing teen, back in Wylie, people prayed for him and his safe return.

Holding hands and softly whispering, a small group gathered outside Wylie High School Friday night and hoped  their prayers would be heard hundreds of miles away.

Michael Archibald said two of his children attended school in Wylie and often traveled with their high school groups. He said he couldn't imagine what it would be like to have a child disappear so far from home.

"We're asking boldly tonight in our little prayer circles with all these folks just to bring little Stephen home to us and keep him safe," he said.

Colbert's mother, the school's principal, and the district's superintendent all flew to Indianapolis Friday afternoon to join the search, perhaps fearing the worst, but relying on prayers from back home.

"It just makes your heart bleed, knowing that someone is lost all by themselves," Archibald said. "And we came out here just to pray and lift him up."

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com
 

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