A private investigator said a New Jersey teen who ran away from his California boarding school in 2004 was possibly spotted nearly 15 years after his unsolved disappearance.
Daniel Yuen was 16 when he reportedly ran away from the Cedu School in San Bernardino after a month of attending classes there. Selena Yuen told ABC News that her brother was sent there during his sophomore year as he struggled with depression.
Private investigator Keith Raymond said Daniel was last seen on February 8, 2004. The school reported Daniel’s disappearance to police, indicating that the teen voluntarily left with no money, according to the news station.
Raymond told ABC that the 16-year-old was spotted panhandling at Hilltop Community Park in San Diego a month after his disappearance. He claimed brought K9s to the park twice at the time and they picked up Daniel’s scent; volunteers searched the park but found no sign of the teen.
Raymond was a former Los Angeles police officer who previously worked at the now-closed behavioral center. He accused staff of doling out harsh punishments; the school faced multiple lawsuits before filing for bankruptcy in 2005 and closing its doors.
The officer-turned-private-investigator said a break in the case occurred in December 2018, when an anonymous tipster left a voicemail indicating Daniel was in the same area but doesn’t want to be found. He recalled going to where K9s had picked up his scent years earlier and showing a park employee an age progression photo of Daniel.
The employee reportedly recalled seeing someone resembling Daniel with a woman and a baby girl. Raymond claimed the employee said they spoke with Daniel earlier that day about where he lived before he nervously picked up the baby and left. From there, he talked to more parkgoers who recognized the couple and baby, according to ABC News.
Raymond said he suspects Daniel, now 31, somehow connected with a new family and took jobs that would allow him to remain undetected.
“I feel it’s Daniel,” Raymond said. “We’re gonna find him, we’re not gonna give up.”
The investigator went on to tell KGTV that he isn’t in any trouble and his family just wants to know he’s OK.
Daniel’s mother added, “Tell him that we love him very much, we cannot pass the days without thinking about him.”
[Featured Image: Daniel Yuen/National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]