Boys found in Arizona after joyride

Two boys who had been missing since Sunday were found in Phoenix, about 500 miles from their Telluride homes, and were in the custody of police as of Wednesday afternoon.

The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department received confirmation at approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday that 14-year-old Danny Eberly and 12-year-old Christopher Ihinger were in custody and were unharmed after Phoenix police arrested them on suspicion of committing crimes.

Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said the boys were taken into custody for allegedly trying to shoplift baseball caps from a J.C. Penney store, according to the Associated Press. No charges are expected, and the boys were waiting at a juvenile correction center for their parents to pick them up, Martos said.

Phoenix police said the vehicle the boys drove to Phoenix has not yet been recovered, and the boys claimed they cannot remember where they left it.

The San Miguel Sheriff’s Department said details remain to be learned about how the two boys made their way to Phoenix after going with Ihinger’s father, Aaron Ihinger, and Eberly’s stepfather, Eric Wright, on an outdoors day trip. The four went to an area near a boat ramp near mile marker 12 off 20R Road, or Dolores River Road, near Big Gyp Gap. The adults went rock climbing late in the morning and left the boys with the white F-150 pickup they drove to the area.

The men learned the boys and the truck were missing upon returning at approximately 4 p.m. The men hiked back to a main road, then hitchhiked to Norwood and alerted the authorities about the missing boys at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday.

The boys’ disappearance triggered a land and air search of rain-soaked terrain, including abandoned mines, Monday and Tuesday.

According to San Miguel Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jennifer Dinsmore, the boys admitted to Phoenix police they had run away and taken the truck to Arizona. Sheriff’s Department investigators said it was “highly probable” the boys had planned to run away to Arizona, using the Sunday climbing trip with their fathers as a way to flee.

Details to support that claim came from interviews of the boys’ friends, investigators say.

Eberly, an eighth-grade student, and Ihinger, a seventh-grade student, are enrolled at Telluride Middle School, where principal Steven Smith said a couple of students provided investigators with information about conversations they had with the boys last week.

Smith said Ihinger has been a student attending school in Telluride since the third grade. He said Eberly has only been a student in town for about three weeks.

Attempts to reach Eberly’s mother, Lori Eberly, and Aaron Ihinger, were not successful Wednesday. Attempts to reach San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters also were not successful.

Dinsmore had no information about when the boys would return to Colorado.


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