Johnathan Croom was reportedly found dead tonight near his SUV in a wooded area in Oregon.
His death is being investigated as a suicide, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
Croom, 18, (who is identified in some press accounts by the traditional “Jonathan” spelling) had gone missing about 10 days ago. His SUV was abandoned on a back road in the small Oregon town of Riddle last Wednesday. His wallet, photo ID, some cash, and a book about outdoor survival had been left in the green Honda CRV.
His body was found about 1,000 feet from that spot.
Croom apparently was obsessed with the book (later made into a movie) Into the Wild about Christopher McCandless, an adventure-seeker who died of starvation in the Alaska wilderness.
McCandless’ mother said on CNN earlier tonight that “We have a message for the family, including Johnathan, if he’s listening. We want to say, young man, please call your parents. No one will ever worry about you, care about you, or love you more than your mom and dad.”
AP reports that “[Croom's] mother has said he was traveling alone and on his way back from Seattle, where he visited a friend. Croom was due in Arizona on Aug. 17 to start college in Mesa. [A Sheriff's Department spokesman] had said that text messages between Croom and a friend indicated Croom wanted to run away.”
Earlier today, Croom’s dad said his son was upset over a recent breakup with his girlfriend. “After reading text messages and talking to his ex-girlfriend, I think it’s a broken heart. So, he’s run off to try to fix it somehow.”
On CNN, David Croom added that “he’s a tough kid, he’s in great shape, and he’s really smart, but I’m afraid he’s not geared up for this environment.” The family lives in Apache Junction, Arizona.