Valdosta Daily Times

April 26, 2013

Missing teen found in Colo.

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A Hahira teenager originally believed to have ended his life along the Little River has been located in Colorado, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

“During the investigation, investigators obtained many tips from the public and assistance from the Denver, Colo., Police Department that led to finding Nathan Wilkins who was safe,” according to the sheriff’s office Thursday. “No motive is yet confirmed for his disappearance.”

Wilkins, 19, reportedly faced an upcoming court case involving a 2012 arrest in Bay County, Fla. Florida 2012 media reports included Wilkins as a suspect in an undercover sting operation that netted 12 men who had Internet chats with what they believed were children but were really undercover law-enforcement representatives. When the men arrived at a pre-arranged address, law officers arrested them.

As for Wilkins’ disappearance, on Monday afternoon, a fisherman noticed clothing on the banks of the Little River at the Lowndes-Brooks county line off Morven Road. Investigating, the fisherman discovered a typed note which had reportedly been written by Wilkins, a Valdosta State University student from Hahira.

Family members reported last seeing Wilkins, whom relatives and friends call Nathan, on Thursday, April 18, as they dropped him off to attend classes at VSU.

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine said suspicions were raised because the clothing and note were dry, which seemed strange given the rainfall of Monday morning. The note claimed to be from the missing teen who claimed to be distraught, loved his family and planned to end his life.

Based on the fisherman’s discovery, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources began searching the river, with boats, a dozen divers, and sonar equipment. Meanwhile, authorities also searched the woods along the river and interviewed Wilkins’ family and friends.

This effort continued Tuesday until mid-afternoon when authorities halted the river search based on information from a reliable source who claimed to have spoken to Wilkins Monday evening and again Tuesday morning.

As for charges, the sheriff said his investigators believe someone else placed the note and clothing along the Little River. That person may face charges if identified.