LICK CREEK - The family of a 17-year-old Mingo Central High School student are asking for the public’s assistance to locate and bring their son home, saying they fear for his welfare and safety. The teen has been missing since Aug. 19, the day prior to the 2012 school year beginning.
Austin Brown and his older sister and a younger brother were adopted by Paul David and Kathleen Brown 5 years ago, after the children were removed from the home and custody of their biological mother, Melissa Bentley, “aka” as Melissa France and Melissa Gauze. The mother was allegedly stripped of any and all parental rights of the three siblings and was ordered by the court to have no contact with the kids.
According to information provided by the Browns, their son went missing on Aug. 18, after receiving Facebook and other social media messages from his birth mother and sister, “enticing” him to runway from home.
“We’ve had nothing but problems out of Melissa since the day we adopted the kids,” stated Paul. “We’re worried to death about Austin, especially since we have reasons to believe he may be around people that are involved in illegal drug activity.”
The Browns filed a missing people report with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) shortly after their son’s disappearance, but have not had any direct contact with him since he left home. They received information that he was reportedly seen in the Fairview/West Williamson communities this past weekend as well as near the Freewill Baptist Church at Rawl, where family members of his biological mother reside.
“We figure he’s either with Melissa or his sister Kurastin, and we have reason to believe he’s traveling back and forth between Mingo County and Charleston. He could also be spending time in Gallager, in the Paint Creek area,” stated the worried father.
“We just want him back home where he’ll be safe and taken care of, and he desperately needs to be back in school.”
Austin is described as being approximately 5’11”, weighing in the range of 215 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair.
If you have any information concerning Austin Brown’s whereabouts, you are asked to contact Deputy Kevin Ball or Deputy Max Mounts with the MCSD at 304-235-0300, or the missing teen’s parents at 304-235-5356.