A Graham teen who disappeared Thursday with his car running on the side of the road and his cell phone and schoolwork inside is considered a runaway, investigators said Friday.
Kenneth Colton Laase’s family reported the 16-year-old missing after a neighbor found his 2004 Mitsubishi Montero about 1 p.m. parked and running along 228th Street East just west of Orting Kapowsin Highway East.
That is less than a third of a mile from his home.
The teen made it to his classes Thursday morning at Graham Kapowsin High but did not attend his 1 p.m. Running Start college course.
Sheriff’s detectives initially believed Laase might be in danger and asked the public to be on the lookout for him.
A woman came forward Thursday night and told investigators she’d met Laase at a gas station near his home and given him a ride to Yelm because he said he wanted to see his mother, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
Investigators reviewed surveillance footage and confirmed the boy in the video was Laase. He was seen sitting on a curb alone before approaching the woman for a ride.
It was unclear why he wanted to go to Yelm.
The sighting at the gas station coupled with tweets sent out on Laase’s Twitter account shortly before he went missing led detectives to change his status to a runaway.
He tweeted that he was being followed and asked friends to wish him luck, Troyer said, adding that it appears the teen wanted to make it seem as if something bad happened to him.
Detectives were continuing to look for the teen but did not consider him in danger.
He’s described as white, 5 feet 10, 135 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a dark jacket and tan pants when last seen.