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Private investigator helping search for runaway Mid-Michigan teens

2:17 AM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (WZZM) - "Please come home."

Since they left on August 26, parents in Isabella County have been begging a pair of runaway teenagers to come home or at least make contact.

But nothing.

Braxton Wood, 14, of Mount Pleasant, and his girlfriend, Jayden Thomas, 13, of Clare, used his mother's Ford Explorer to run away last Monday.

Since then, not even a phone call or an e-mail.

"It's like they fell off the face of the earth," says Jayden's mother Kelly Drinkwine. "No one can find them."

West Michigan private eye Mike Cook is part of the team trying to find the teenagers.

Cook belongs to a national network of private detectives who donate their skills to help search for missing children.

"Trying to find these two has been a little bit more difficult than any of us would have thought," says Cook. "They are 13 and 14 years old, boyfriend and girlfriend. It's our impression they have not made contact with anyone."

"It's like a nightmare," says Ed Wood, Brandon's father. "You don't know what to do, where to go or who to call."

Late last week surveillance cameras recorded the Ford Explorer headed southbound across the Mackinac Bridge.

"So they obviously were in the Upper Peninsula at some point," says Cook.

Cell phone pings and other leads have guided investigators to various locations, but they haven't found the teenagers.

"We know they have been in western Michigan," says Cook. "We know they have been throughout central Michigan. The last area we know for sure is the Mt. Pleasant area, but it's been a few days since we've had a good solid lead of where we knew they were."

"They are 13 and 14 years old," says Braxton's mother, Sarah Kiley. "They can't live on their own."

Investigators say they don't know why the teenagers decided to run away.

"That's been our biggest question," admits Cook. "We aren't aware of the actual catalyst that set them off to leave."

Between them, their parents say the teenagers had about $80.00. They also took a video game console, a coin collection and other items that could be sold for cash.

But if they aren't already, Cook fears the teenagers will soon be broke.

"Usually these kids start as a runaway and it turns into something else once they run out of money," he says. "Kids are doing things you don't want to see kids do to make money. We are hoping they realize their parents really do want them back."

"They are two babies trying to take on the world," sobs Drinkwine. "There are mean, horrible people out there. Just come home, baby. Just come home."

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