OC Sheriff's Dept.: Nonverbal man with autism ID'd as missing person, will be reunited with family

ByABC7.com staff via KABC logo
Sunday, December 30, 2018
An unidentified arrestee is seen in a photo distributed by authorities on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- After asking for the public's help on Sunday, authorities identified a nonverbal man with autism who had been taken into custody the previous day at a convenience store in Yorba Linda.

"Thanks to all of you and the power of social media, in less than an hour he is ID'd as a missing deaf and autistic man from Huntington Park," the Orange County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. "We are working to release him back to the custody of his family ASAP."

In a previous news release, authorities said the man was arrested Saturday at a 7-Eleven after he "attempted to steal items from the store at around 4:40 p.m. and resisted arrest."

Deputies unsuccessfully attempted to identify the man by reviewing missing-person reports, contacting regional centers and homes that provide services for adults with autism, and running his fingerprints.

Investigators said the man, believed to be in his 30s, appeared to be "clean and well-groomed," adding that he did not respond to deputies' attempts to communicate with sign language.

The man wrote "Millie" several times on paper while he was evaluated by mental-health personnel, the Sheriff's Department said. He was held separately for observation Sunday at the agency's Intake Release Center in Santa Ana.