Jimmy Hall has been searching desperately for his missing son, Rashawn Williams, for the past week. The 31-year-old, who has Down syndrome, had gotten separated from his caregiver last week.
The family searched day after day, until the wee hours of the morning, calling “Shawnyboy!”.
Hall was worried and understandably so – his son wasn’t dressed for the cold weather and could only talk in one or two-word sentences, meaning that he wouldn’t be able to ask for help.
On Thursday evening, Hall and his family were out searching for his son again, combing a Glenmont parking lot, when he received a call. It was one of the detectives from Montgomery County who was leading the missing person search. She told him that they had found his son.
Hall immediately went to a nearby train station, where his son was, and hugged him tight. Shawnyboy greeted his day like he always did with an enthusiastic, “Dah-DEE”.
While the detective’s search had gone off to a slow start, it eventually sped up after the case was given appropriate urgency on Monday night – three days after he had gone missing.
Three days afterward, one of the officers involved in the search was at Glenmont Metro station when he noticed an emergency exit. He asked the station manager, who led him to a hidden corridor, which was on the other side.
That’s where he found the missing son – alive and in relatively good health. Officials believe the door automatically locked after he walked inside. He subsequently made his way down the corridor, into a small room, where he spent the last few days.
Williams was taken to a local hospital and treated for drhydration. Considering everything, however, he’s in very good health, said his aunt.
After leaving the hospital, Williams was all smiles – obviously happy to see his father and other familiar faces.
According to Hall, William lived with his mother for the first twenty years of his life. Following her death, he moved to a group home as Hall had to continue working and was unable to care for him. However, they two would spend time together at home on the weekends.
One year ago, however, a fire broke out at the group home, which led him to be relocated in Montgomery County. That was where he was last Friday, when he walked past his caregivers and jumped on a bus, whose route stretched over ten miles.
Police were eventually called by the caregivers at approximately 6:40pm on the day he went missing. First officers arrived at the scene 15 minutes later and was told the missing individual had gotten on a bus.
A description of Williams was immediately sent to the transit authority, which operates the train system and bus lines. They also issued a notification to other agencies to be on the lookout for the 31-year-old. Fliers were also shared on social media and sent to local media outlets. However, they missed one crucial information – that he had Down syndrome, which made him more vulnerable than others.
According to officers, they did not attempt to stop the bus that he had boarded because, by the time they got there, they weren’t sure which bus he had jumped on and whether or not he was still on board.
Hall immediately took things into his own hands, searching the area frantically on his own, driving along the bus route while calling out William’s name.
The search was made difficult as he wasn’t leaving behind any electronic markers – he had no cellphone, and no credit card, both of which can normally be used to trace a missing individual.
Fortunately, William himself doesn’t seem to have been affected by the experience much. According to his father, he is already back to his old happy self.