Erik Festner, 17, of Woodstock, was found after an online campaign to locate him sprang up on social media, said Woodstock Police spokeswoman Brittany Duncan.
“Erik was located in Nebraska by a law enforcement agency,” Duncan added. “Erik was found safe and healthy.”
When Festner left home in the early morning hours last Wednesday, following an argument with his parents, relatives launched the online campaign in hopes to locate the teen, gaining more than 800 followers in a group with the goal of finding the runaway.
Duncan said Festner’s safe return “provided a sense of relief to not only his family and friends, but also to those who followed his story via social media.”
“Through the use of social media, his story reached the entire community, as well as many others,” Duncan said. “The online campaign to locate this young man proved a sense of unity within the community and also provided his family with support and encouragement through those days.”
The teen’s mother, Teresa Chapin, originally posted about her missing son on her personal Facebook page July 9, and said Festner left their Woodstock home in the River Park subdivision.
“We just moved here a year ago, and we don’t know many of his friends to contact to see if they know where he’s at,” she wrote last Wednesday.
Once her son was located, Chapin posted July 12 in the Facebook group set up to help find the teen, and said she had booked a flight to meet with her son in Nebraska.
“I want to thank everyone for their prayers and re-posting of his picture. It was because of these sites that he was found. I whole-heartedly believe that,” she said. “Our next step is recovery and helping him find himself now that we have physically found him. He will continually need thoughts and prayers sent his way.”