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Orofino Police Chief Speaks Out about Runaway Teen

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Now to the latest on the investigation of what was a missing team. KLEW News Reporter Shannon Moudy spoke with the Orofino Police Chief about whyAs relieved as the community is to find Kristian Perez safe, the nature of his disappearance is frustrating. A tip led police to find Kristian Perez close to 1:00AM Tuesday morning, this ends days of searching by several area agencies but now he’s charged as a runaway.

Just two miles from where he disappeared, police found 17-year-old Kristian Perez around 12:44 Tuesday morning.

"There was particular concern that there could've been foul play involved so that did increase the level of urgency for us,” said Orofino Police Chief Jeff Wilson.

Kristian left Orofino’s prom at the National Guard Armory around 9:30 Saturday night. He left behind a tuxedo jacket, broken phone, and one shoe, troubling clues for the Orofino Police Department.

A canine tracking team followed the trail from the armory a short distance west to a nearby parking lot, where the trail was lost.

"We were fortunate enough to get a tip late last night that led to a house on Indio Avenue here in Orofino where Kristian was found safe,” said Chief Wilson.

After more than 48-hours of fear and worry, emotions now turning to relief mixed with frustration. Police discovered Perez had willfully been hiding at the home of a 26-year-old Orofino man.

"Ultimately we were disappointed in the fact that he elected to in essence run away and not contact family members, knowing people were looking for him, but at the same time it was a relief to find him,” said Chief Wilson.

In Idaho, it’s a status offense for children under 18 to run away.

"He was taken into custody on a runaway charge and then he is released to a parent, so he left with his mother late last night,” said Chief Wilson.

Clearwater County’s Deputy Prosecutor Laurie Gilmore said that Perez faces possible probation for the charge.

"A lot of man-hours put into the last 48-hours of trying to locate him,” said Chief Wilson.

It’s a bittersweet ending to an investigation that involved numerous agencies, as far away as Horseshoe Bend near Boise.

Chief Wilson hopes others will learn a lesson from this.

"The real message here or learning experience is hopefully that other teenagers that are in this situation make a better choice that don't lead to some of this concern and some of this chaos that we've experienced the last 48 hours,” said Chief Wilson.

Monday, the school district brought in counseling for students and staff who were distraught over Perez’s initial disappearance. Again police determined he wasn’t missing but had run away from home.

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