Sheriff: Missing Arizona teen found dead in Oregon

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by Nigel Duara, Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 28 at 4:18 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The body of an Arizona teenager missing since last week was found Monday evening near the spot where his SUV was abandoned in a wooded area of southern Oregon, a sheriff's spokesman said.

The body of 18-year-old Johnathan Croom was discovered about 1,000 feet from his vehicle, Douglas County sheriff's spokesman Dwes Hutson said in a statement. The death was being investigated as a suicide.

Hutson didn't immediately return a call for additional comment. His statement said no more information was being released Monday night.

The Apache Junction, Ariz., teen had talked with his parents about the book "Into the Wild" and told a friend he wanted to run away.

Croom's SUV was found Wednesday in Riddle, a town of 1,200 people just off the state's main north-south thoroughfare, Interstate 5.

His mother, Monica Croom, had said he was traveling alone and on his way back from Seattle, where he visited a friend. The teen was due in Arizona on Aug. 17 to start college in Mesa.

Monica Croom's phone rang unanswered Monday night after the sheriff's office announced the teen's death. Hutson said next of kin had been notified.

Hutson said earlier that text messages between Croom and a friend indicated Croom wanted to run away.

Croom also talked to his parents about Christopher McCandless, whose journey to Alaska was documented in the book "Into the Wild." McCandless gave up his worldly goods to live in the Alaska wilderness, only to die there, perhaps from eating wild potatoes.

"I think we have kind of a combination there," Hutson said earlier Monday. "He talked with his parents about `Into the Wild,' and in text messages we've looked at, he does specifically talk about running away, kind of just running away from his life."

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