By Dana Delgado
Christopher Seth Briggs, the missing North Texas teenager who ran away Nov. 14, 2013, from Meridell Achievement Center in Liberty Hill, has been found.
The teen was found safe on Saturday, Jan. 25, in Austin by the Austin Police Department. The announcement was made by Liberty Hill Police Chief Randy Williams.
“The Austin Police Department contacted me Saturday (Jan. 25) morning informing me that they had found him and identified him,” said Chief Williams. “I contacted his parents and talked to his dad and they confirmed it was their son through a photo sent to them electronically.”
Chief Williams said APD detained Briggs until he was released to the family later that morning. Williams said that he learned that Briggs had slightly altered his appearance and had reportedly not been forthcoming when first approached by Austin police. Williams added that he not know how or where APD found the 16-year old, but added that a tip received about two weeks ago might have led officials to him.
The tip, which the Chief had shared with the parents, was that someone fitting Briggs’ description had been seen on Austin’s “drag” (Guadalupe Street) near the University of Texas campus.
The teen’s recovery ends an extensive 73-day search that had included multiple searches by the Texas Search and Rescue and a host of local, county and state law enforcement agencies along with unending family searches.
According to Briggs’ grandmother, Judy Jackson, her son Jimmy Jackson who lives in Austin and is an uncle of the teen, went to the scene at the request of Briggs’ parents to meet with APD officers where he again confirmed the boy’s identity.
Mrs. Jackson spoke with The Independent in a telephone interview from Guthrie, Texas.
He was in a “good frame of mind and was happy, talking and even laughing,” she said.
Mrs. Jackson said her grandson was taken to a hospital by his uncle for evaluation.
“Everything was good,” she said. “He had lost a little weight and there were no drugs in his system.
“He told us it (running away) was something he needed to do,” Mrs. Jackson said. “He said he wanted to be alone and be independent, but was very sorry for putting everyone through this.”
She said she believes the medication may have affected him.
“We’re so glad that he’s been found and is healthy,” said Mrs. Jackson. “Now, we’re trying to figure out the next steps.”
While the teen’s parents evaluate his situation, he will temporarily stay with his uncle.
Briggs told his family that within an hour after running away from Meridell, he hitched a ride to Austin. There, he reportedly found his way to Austin Lifeworks where he used their facilities and services that included showers, bedding and meals.
Austin Lifeworks is a non-profit organization focused on helping youth through its varied programs including an emergency shelter, counseling services, education services, workforce training and transitional living.
Briggs had also cut his hair and dyed it red, his grandmother said.
She added that the family appreciated the help everyone provided.
“It is always good that they come back safe and sound,” said Chief Williams. “We were always worried something might have happened to him. Hopefully, he gets the help he needs.”
Chief Williams expressed appreciation to the Austin Police Department for “going above and beyond” in the case by putting in extra hours to get confirmation of the teen’s identity and resolve the case.
After TEXSAR turned up nothing in their second area search, the family “were not sure what to do” but began to consider the area “just outside the radius” previously searched, according to the teen’s grandmother. Mrs. Jackson said the family had people searching in Austin, but that no one had seen Briggs as of midweek, one week ago.
Briggs had only been at the Meridell Center four days before he bolted from the Liberty Hill residential facility in November. According to the family, he was being treated for bi-polar disorder and had recently been diagnosed with autism.