Authorities searching for missing Mount Hood teen

Elijah Lee

Elijah Lee

The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a local teen who has been missing for nearly two weeks.

Elijah Lee, 14, has been reported missing from his Mount Hood home since Monday, Sept. 16. Pete Hughes, public information officer for the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, reported Lee ran away from home, possibly due to a family conflict. Hughes said the office “was involved with him and his family before the runaway was reported.”

Hughes said Lee’s mother, Hanni Church, also reported her son missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A detective has been assigned to the case and the sheriff’s office is “running down various leads” and working with the national organization in an attempt to find Lee, Hughes said.

The sheriff’s office averages about one missing child report a week, according to Hughes, but he said most juveniles “return the next day with their tails between their legs” after running away from home. However, he added that it’s “not unusual” for runaways to stay missing for longer periods.

On the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website, Lee is listed as an “endangered runaway,” but Hughes said there was “nothing to indicate that he is in danger.” However, he noted that any juvenile who runs away from home also runs the risk of putting his or herself in a bad situation.

“We just don’t know where he’s at and for a 14-year-old, that’s dangerous,” Hughes explained.

Lee is described as a white male, 5 feet 9 inches in height, weighing 120 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes, and gauged ears. He is currently an eighth-grade student at Wy’east Middle School in Odell, according to Principal Catherine Dalbey, who said Lee last attended school Thursday, Sept. 12.

“He is a very bright kid,” she said. “He helped out with our sixth-grade orientation day as one of our WEB leaders. I hope that he comes home soon.”

Those with information are advised to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office at 541-386-2711.

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