Two teen runaways from Crossville DCS facility found safe

(The Tennessean) Two teenage boys who ran away from a Department of Children's Services home for boys in Crossville on Sept. 5 were found Wednesday afternoon some 20 miles away, according to one father.

Jacob Crow and Hunter Smith, both 15, had run away from the Cumberland Mountain School for Boys last month.

The low-security residential facility houses boys in DCS custody who have had minor brushes with the law or who have been removed from homes due to neglect or abuse.

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said the state never thought Crow belonged in DCS custody.

"We should also point that our original recommendation was that this youth go home with the father, so that DCS could place intensive services in the home,'' Johnson said. "Yet the father refused, insisting that his son come into custody instead.''

The facility has reported 37 runaway incidents to police in the past three years, according to Randall Killman, human resource and community relations director.

Joseph Crow, the father, said he tried for weeks to urge the Department of Children's Services to involve the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the search for the boys, who were believed to have left the DCS home with neither money nor identification.

"Law enforcement issues (endangered child) alerts based (on) whether a youth is a danger either to himself or the community. Law enforcement agencies do not issue alerts for every DCS child who runs, and because of our close cooperation with law enforcement in this regard, DCS is very familiar with their practices,'' Johnson said in a prepared statement. "Based on the circumstances of this case, we are not surprised that an alert was not issued when the youth ran. Yet when the father called us a few days ago, our staff members did everything they could to be helpful.''

On Monday, after calls from Crow, his family and friends, DCS contacted TBI, which added the boys to its website of missing children. The boys were found in Clarkrange, Tenn., in Fentress County on Wednesday. Johnson said DCS caseworkers helped law enforcement find the teens.

Joseph Crow said he got a call from DCS reporting the boys were found. "I am so happy," he said. Crow had posted his son's picture on Facebook every day with urgent messages to spread the word he was gone for each of the 27 days he was missing.

Crow said he expected to be reunited with his son at the Crossville juvenile detention facility Wednesday evening.


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