Cops Take On Mission to Place Homeless Mentally-Disabled Teen

PHOTO: Aaron Panagos encounter with the 19-year-old has led to temporary care and shelter for the disabled teen.PlayKOMO
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Two Washington state police officers are exceeding the call of duty in a mission to find a home for a homeless teen with mental and physical disabilities.

Officers Paul Henderson and Derrick Lether of the Monroe Police Department were called by a concerned citizen who saw Jake, 19, walking in and out of the road along a busy highway last Thursday.

“As soon as we got on scene, it was evident that he had some mental disabilities,” Lether said.

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Lether said the teenager had a hospital-discharge band on his wrist, indicating he had just been released the day he was found. Aaron Panagos was the one who found Jake and called the police.

He told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle that he thinks Jake was walking along the rural highway in search of horses.

"That's basically one of his passions is horses, because people judge him and animals don't," Panagos said after talking to Jake about his past.

The teen has cerebral palsy although the Monroe Police Department and Valley General Hospital would not confirm that diagnosis, KOMO reported. Police did confirm that the teen had mental and physical disabilities and had difficulty communicating.

Jake’s last name is not being released.

Although Henderson and Lether were able to contact his family, they were not interested in taking in the young man. For now Jake has remained at Valley General Hospital in Monroe, Washington.

The officers have now reached out to multiple social service sites in the hopes that someone can take in Jake, so he will not be homeless.

"This is a guy who just can't take care of himself," Henderson told KOMO-TV. "It's not like a choice he made. For somebody in his circumstance, it's definitely difficult because you want to see that kind of person being taken care of more so more than myself or some other family member."

Lether said finding a home for Jake is just another part of his job and hopes that they will hear back from Adult Protective Services soon.

“Jake is no different,” Lether said, “and needed our help as much anyone else did.”