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Missing for three months, Detroit Lakes teen found ‘safe’ in California

15-year-old Parker Eastman of Detroit Lakes had been missing since Monday, Aug. 21, suspected of being a runaway. (Submitted photo)

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- A Detroit Lakes teenager has been found after he went missing three months ago, but there are few details on what happened to him.

Parker Eastman, 15, was located Friday afternoon in California, Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steve Todd said in a phone interview with Forum News Service.

“We know he’s safe and he’s in a safe place right now,” Todd said. “We’re thankful that he is OK.”

Law enforcement agencies in California are working to return Parker to his family, but offices are closed for the Thanksgiving weekend, making it difficult to make arrangements, Todd said. Plans for the teenager’s return could start to form as early as Monday morning.

“We’ll get him home as soon as possible,” Todd said.

Officers are trying to piece together what happened to the teen. Few details have been released in the case, though social media posts from a Facebook page dedicated to the teen, as well as news stories, may offer some clues.

Parker went missing Aug. 21, leaving behind his phone, money, identification and personal belongings, according to a GoFundMe page said up by a family member. The page dedicated to hiring a private investigator raised nearly $2,800 in a month.

Todd declined to release any further information in the case, including why Parker went missing, where he has been for three months, if there was foul play suspected or if a suspect, if any, had been apprehended. Police don’t want to jeopardize efforts to investigate the case by passing out too much information, Todd said.

“Because he is a juvenile, quite a bit of his information is protected,” he said. “We’re also trying to put some timelines together.”

Reaching Parker, a Facebook page created by Parker’s family, has captured the attention of thousands. More than 65,000 people have followed updates from the page created shortly after the teen went missing. One post was shared 540,000 times.

Officers investigated numerous tips, and the Facebook page has given updates on the search, including places Parker may have been. Investigators were led to the St. Cloud, Minn., area in the early days of the investigation.

One of the more recent posts from Reaching Parker described his mother, Meghan Eastman, receiving a text saying “It’s Parker” from a phone with an Olympia, Wash., number.

“I called and texted back several times with no answer,” she wrote in the Nov. 18 post.

She told the Olympian newspaper a person replied via text to tell her a boy asked to use the phone. The text said that he “seemed OK.”

Information indicated Parker was in the New London, Wash., area, about 60 miles west of Olympia. He would be found about a week later somewhere in California.

Todd didn’t say where in California Parker was found, but the police chief thanked the public for its help in the search.

Forum News Service has reached out to Parker’s family for comment.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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