RICHLAND, Texas (AP) — A U.S. Marine believed to have left Arizona for California’s Camp Pendleton never arrived, but was found days later at a Texas rest area, unharmed.
Lance Cpl. Job Wallace was taken into custody Saturday night by Naval Criminal Investigative Service and other law enforcement officers at a rest area in Navarro County, according to a NCIS statement cited by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The 20-year-old had last been seen leaving a friend’s house in Surprise, Arizona, on Monday night, his mother, Stacy Wallace, said. He was due back at Camp Pendleton after a three-day leave that took him home to the suburbs west of Phoenix and a camping trip.
About an hour south of Dallas, Navarro County is more than 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) east of Surprise and in the opposite direction from Camp Pendleton in Southern California.
The statement from Kurt Thomas, the special agent in charge of the NCIS Marine Corps West field office, did not include details about how Wallace was found or what he was doing.
Stacy Wallace had said her son loved the Marines and was excited to get back to Camp Pendleton, having been recently promoted.
“He got into several colleges and missed scholarship opportunities just so that he could be a Marine, because he felt it was his duty to serve his country,” Wallace said.
Wallace’s mother had said law enforcement officials told her that her son’s phone was last pinged Monday night in Arizona. But a Border Patrol camera spotted his truck the next morning traveling eastbound on Interstate 10 near Fort Hancock, Texas, southeast of El Paso.
A Surprise police spokesman had said officers took a report and turned the matter over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Thomas’ Saturday night statement thanked law enforcement partners in Texas, Arizona and on the federal level “for their aid in bringing this to a safe resolution.”
Wallace's parents released the following statement early Sunday morning:
Our focus throughout the past five days since Job was reported missing was to do whatever it took to find our son, and we are profoundly relieved he is safe. Our children are everything to us.
The Wallace family would like to thank NCIS, the FBI, Surprise, AZ Police Department, Texas authorities, the military and veterans’ communities, The Missing Aware Foundation, and other groups for all their support in coordinating the search for Job.
Additionally, the family extends their special thanks to the thousands of friends and supporters who showed their support and kept Job in their thoughts and prayers.
Thank you from Stacy and Justin Wallace, their children and their entire family.
Jeff Houston with NCIS released the following statement late Saturday night:
Lance Cpl. Wallace was taken into custody without incident by NCIS and local law enforcement tonight at a rest area in Navarro County, Texas. We offer our sincere gratitude to the local police departments in Texas and Arizona, as well as our federal partners, for their aid in bringing this to a safe resolution.