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O.C. athlete goes missing without a trace

December 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A local baseball star vanished without a trace in Orange County, and authorities are working to solve the mystery.From restaurants to stop signs, flyers are posted throughout Fullerton. James Wernke's family and friends are desperate to solve his mysterious disappearance.

"It's completely out of character for James. He's pretty straight-laced, never out of touch for much more than 15, 20 minutes with somebody," said James' father, Robert Wernke.

The 21-year-old baseball star at Santa Ana College took his girlfriend's family dog, a yellow Labrador named Kealie, for a walk around 2 p.m. Saturday. Neither he nor the dog has been seen since.

"I'd hate to think that someone would actually try to abduct him, because he didn't have any I.D. on him, so there's no money, no wallet, no nothing, just a phone and a dog," described James' father.

Fullerton police have now joined the search for the missing athlete. A neighbor took pictures of a search dog on the hunt for James' trail. So far, there are no leads in this mysterious case.

Family and friends say that life was good for the star pitcher. He just got a full baseball scholarship to Long Beach State and was being courted by several professional teams. They say that they can't imagine where he may be.

"I have no idea. I mean, I'm trying to block out all the negative thoughts right now and stay positive, but it's definitely unlike him to have no one know where he is. I mean, someone always knows where he is at sometime, but I'm definitely worried," said James' teammate R.J. Hively.

At 6 feet 4 inches and weighing 190 pounds, friends say that Wernke wouldn't be an easy target. His parents say that he was looking forward to flying home to Colorado on Monday for a great family holiday. They say that all they want now is to know that he's safe.

James' father had these pleading words for his missing son.

"James, please contact somebody. We're worried about you, we love you, and we want you home."

If you have any information on Wernke's whereabouts or if you saw him anytime on Saturday, you're urged to call Fullerton police at (714) 734-3396.


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