17 year-old Alex Witherite was found dead Thursday afternoon. A passerby walking along the Beech Creek Veterans Memorial Bridge at the Centre/Clinton County line saw his body lying partially on the bank and called police. The Clinton County coroner identified Witherite Friday.
The Beech Creek teen's family says he'd been missing for about a month before he was found and Sunday, they're speaking out. They say there wasn't enough done to help find the teen and wonder what else they could have done to help.
It's a feeling Nadine Richards is still struggling with.
"It was like taking it to State Police and the door, after we left, was shut and never opened back up," Richards said.
Doors opened and closed again, and now, her cousin's son is dead.
"I feel, yes, the State Police are good at things and they protect us, but at this point, I feel they failed us," she said. "They failed us as a family."
She says Alex's father reported his son missing December 9, 2013, after waking up, finding him gone and finding footprints in the snow outside of Alex's window.
Richards says Alex's father immediately filed a missing persons report with State Police and continued to check back with them for any information they may have found.
"He left a picture, he left descriptions, date of birth," she said. "He then had taken posters and posted them several places."
Still, two, three weeks later, nothing. Richards says at first, police listed Alex as a runaway, but after weeks of no answers and still no signs of Alex, she knew something wasn't right.
"The lady that I spoke with at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was totally shocked that the State Police had done nothing at this point," Richards said. "They should have, at least, after 72 hours sent something out, nationwide, reporting that Alex was missing."
Nearly five weeks later, Alex's body was found, but Richards frustration continues. Why, after weeks of Alex being missing, was more not done to help find him?
"If the police would have done what they were to do, we would have had 50,000 or more eyes looking for this child," Richards said. "Unfortunately, he was found, but in a way we didn't want him to be found."
State Police at Lamar are handling the investigation. They say their protocol for finding runaways and missing children is decided on a case-by-case basis and would not comment further on this case, as it's an ongoing investigation.
The coroner's office is waiting on toxicology tests to determine a cause of death.
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