Autistic Boy Steals Car, Flies Cross-Country

Father: 13-year-old had Asperger's Syndrome, flew without photo I.D.

April 29, 2009, 8:07 PM

April 30, 2009 — -- Kenton Weaver is 13 years old, has no photo I.D. that his father knows of and lives with autism.

None of that stopped the Boca Raton boy from stealing his father's car in the middle of the night Tuesday, cruising more than 20 miles to a Florida airport and hopping a couple of connecting flights to San Jose, Calif.

"I really enjoyed it," Kenton told "Good Morning America" simply. "I talked to a few people."

Kenton's mother, Kim Casey, lives just hours from the San Jose airport in Fresno, Calif., but the boy's father, Dean Weaver, suspects it wasn't the destination that lured the boy to the airport, but the journey.

Kenton has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism often characterized by an unusual preoccupation with particular subjects. According to Dean, his son was fascinated by airplanes.

"He'll do anything to go to an airport," Dean told the Palm Beach Post. "He wants to be a pilot. He applies for jobs at the airport. He collects [toy] planes. He's just fascinated."

So fascinated that this was at least Kenton's third attempt to get to the airport in the last week. Twice, authorities returned Kenton to his dad's house after he was found at the local rail station where he was waiting for a ride to the airport, according to the Palm Beach Post.

That his latest attempt was successful was surprising, not due to his condition (in most cases, those with Asperger's have normal, or even above normal, intelligence), but because Kenton did not own a credit card, passport, driver's license, or photo I.D. of any kind, Dean said.

Yet he was able to somehow buy a plane ticket for a Southwest Airlines flight, slip through airport security, fly to Chicago and catch his connecting flight to San Jose unimpeded.

"It's very difficult to get on a plane these days, and somehow he managed to get a ticket, get through security, get on a plane, and then I understand that it was not a direct flight. So he had to get off a plane, get back on another plane, all without anybody, you know, raising a question," Dean told ABC News' West Palm Beach affiliate WPBF-TV.

Dean said it is possible Kenton used the numbers from one of his credit cards to buy the ticket online.

While she was surprised it actually happened, Kenton's mother said she didn't doubt Kenton could pull something like this off.

"I wasn't shocked that Kenton was able to manage this," Casey said. "He is just a different type of child."

Airline: Boy 'Didn't Violate Any Airline Rules'

In a statement, Southwest Airlines said the boy "presented a valid ticket for travel and underwent airport security to board his flight.

"He didn't violate any airline rules nor any federal security procedures to arrive safely at his destination," the statement said.

According to the Transportation Security Administration's Web site, under federal law, only travelers 18 and older are required to show identification.

Unaccompanied minors are allowed to fly with Southwest Airlines as long as they fill out an "Unaccompanied Minor" form and wear an identifying lanyard throughout the flight, according to Southwest Airlines' Web site. Kenton said he used his report card as identification.

After he was discovered by police, Kenton was taken to his uncle's house near San Jose where he stayed before joining his mother in Fresno. His father has not yet made plans to fly the boy home.

"I think I'd like him to stay there for a while," Dean said. "I'm obviously not set up here to keep him, though I've tried. I have another son, 8 years old. My fear is next time he gets in the car, he might take his little brother."

The car was reportedly found on the third floor of a parking garage, without a scratch on it.

Click here for a list of resources on Asperger's Syndrome.