Two Tacoma boys who prompted a two-day search after running away from home were found safe Friday and placed with the state’s Child Protective Services.
Tacoma police decided not to return Jeffrey Zupan, 11, and Zabian Welcome, 9, to their families.
“After talking with detectives and the history involving the kids, they were placed with CPS,” police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.
Officials declined to release specifics about the boys’ separate situations, but did say each had run away from home before, though not for as long as this week and not together.
Court records indicate Zabian comes from a troubled home and has placed in protective custody in the past. No information was available about Jeffrey’s situation.
The boy disappeared Wednesday after playing together at Zabian’s home in the 5400 block of South Cedar Street. They argued with a member of Zabian’s family who was looking after them and took off, police said.
After the boys were reported missing Wednesday, their photographs were distributed to patrol officers. A formal search was launched Thursday by a Pierce County search and rescue team that scoured neighborhoods and checked Wapato Park and Skip Vaughn Park, where the kids were known to hang out.
The department also sent out a reverse 911 call to homes in the area where Jeffrey and Zabian ran away, providing descriptions of the boys and asking people to report any sightings.
On Friday morning, Bob Casey spotted them huddled under two blankets they’d taken out of a nearby trash can. They were sleeping in a parking strip 25 yards from his house in the 1200 block of North Tacoma Avenue.
“When I walked out of the house, it looked strange,” Casey said. “I knew immediately what it was because I had just read the paper.”
He called police and then approached the runaways, who he said were clad only in shorts and shoes. One had severe blisters on his feet and both were covered in blue marker, like they’d engaged in “marker wars.”
Zabian appeared sleepy and just wanted to lie down, Casey said, but Jeffrey seemed antsy, like he might bolt.
Casey offered to bring the boys bowls of cereal if they would sit on his house steps, but they declined, he said.
The boys were taken to the police station, where detectives interviewed them.
Police said they did not issue an Amber Alert for the boys because the situation did not meet the required criteria, which includes law enforcement confirming there has been an abduction and believing the child to be in danger. There must also be a description of a suspect to release to the public.