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A Texas man who went missing as a teen in 2015 has been found alive, his family and police say

A missing poster for Rudolph "Rudy" Farias IV is shown during the Missing Person Day event at City Hall Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Houston. Farias, who went missing as a teenager in 2015 after last being seen walking his dogs in Houston has been found alive, his family and police said Monday, July 3, 2023. (TexasEquuSearch/Courtesy of Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas man who went missing as a teenager in 2015 after last being seen walking his dogs in Houston has been found alive, his family and police said Monday.

Police and firefighters found Rudolph “Rudy” Farias IV around 10 p.m. Thursday after getting a call of a person lying on the ground in front of a church in southeast Houston, police spokesman John Cannon said.

It was not immediately known where Farias had been the last eight years, Cannon said. Police investigators had not yet spoken with Farias, 25, who remained hospitalized.

“What we do know is at the time of his recovery, a good Samaritan located him unresponsive and immediately called police and 911. My son Rudy is receiving the care he needs to overcome his trauma, but at this time, he is nonverbal and not able to communicate with us,” Janie Santana, Farias’ mother, said in a statement.

In a tweet Monday afternoon, Houston police said it planned on speaking with Farias and his family on Wednesday.

The news that Farias had been found was first reported in a tweet on Saturday by the Texas Center for the Missing, which was handling public communications on behalf of Farias’ family.

“We do know when a loved one goes missing this is the day all families hope for and dream of – REUNIFICATION. We are thankful that Rudy has been found and receiving the care he needs,” the center said in a statement Monday.

Farias was 17 years old when he was reported missing on March 6, 2015, after taking his two dogs for a walk near his family’s home in northeast Houston. The dogs were later found.

Houston police, along with Texas Equusearch, a civilian search and recovery team, looked for Farias but found no signs of him.

When Farias first went missing, Texas Equusearch reported that he suffered from depression and anxiety, and he might have been disoriented because he wasn’t taking his medication. Farias also had asthma and walked with a slight limp because of an injured right leg.

“According to his mother he is very wary around strangers,” Texas Equusearch said in 2015.

Cannon said Farias’ family did report to police investigators that they had seen him in September 2018, staying behind the home of a relative.

Police investigators followed up on the 2018 sighting and went to the relative’s home. But “they could not observe him. They could not locate him,” Cannon said.

Since police were not able to find Farias after the 2018 sighting, the investigation remained open as a missing person case, Cannon said.

Possible sightings like the one Houston police followed up in 2018 were common in the case, said Martin Renteria, a private investigator with Checkmate Investigative Field Services in suburban Houston who had been hired by Farias’ mother a few months after Farias went missing.

Renteria recalled at least a dozen such reports that turned up nothing. Renteria, who worked the case with his wife, Barbara, also followed up on possible sightings in other cities.

“After a couple of years … we finally just had to give up on it,” Renteria said Monday. He added he also considered that Farias, who had become an adult in the time he was missing, might have run away and didn’t want to be found.

Santana and other family members were not available for comment Monday.

“We are asking for privacy during this difficult time but will share more details as Rudy continues to heal,” Santana said in her statement.