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‘Runaway Guide’

Is it a guide to help teens run away — and stay away from home — or is it just an offbeat hipster travelogue?

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Local News
02/26/13

Runaway teen returns home

missingSEQUIM, Wash. — Jonathan Chrysler, the 15-year-old boy who ran away from home has returned, his parents said late Monday evening.

Chrysler ran away on Feb. 20, and reportedly used the website The Runaway Guide and told his parents that the site aided him in leaving home. The site’s creator, Leif, has maintained that his website is not a guide for runaways and has the disclaimer, “The Runaway Guide does not condone or encourage literally running away if you are not an adult.”

On Feb. 22, Chrysler called his parents from a cell phone with a Montana area code. He told them he was near Spokane and his father said that during the call, one of the purported men his son was with grabbed the phone from his son. Chrysler’s father then contacted police.

However, Sgt. Dave Campbell of the Sequim Police Department told the Peninsula Daily News that the department’s investigation raised questions about the validity of the boy’s story.

On Tuesday, The Runaway Guide creator said:

“The main reason why I wrote this is because I felt I could provide a much better guide than the at least three other guides that were previously available to kids on the Internet — a guide that would highlight the dangers and difficulties of running away, one that would ultimately help dissuade kids from running away. And I am very confident that it does just this. I don’t believe that my site pushes kids to run away any more so than by watching ‘Into The Wild.’ I am confident that my site ultimately dissuades kids on the verge to reconsider their plans. Preventing kids from doing what I did is one of the main reasons why I started this site. I know what the street is like and I hope kids will learn from my mistakes.”

missing

Jonathan Chrysler, 15, of Sequim, ran away from home last week, his parents say.

SEQUIM — The creator of an online travel blog that, among other articles, offers tips to kids on how to survive if they run away from home said Monday he’s not responsible for a 15-year-old boy from Sequim who ran away last week. But he added he is trying to reach out to the boy.

Jonathan Chrysler of Sequim ran away five days ago, said his father, Jon Chrysler of Sequim.

Jon said Monday he had spoken to Jonathan by phone a handful of times since he left home. The teen told his parents he left home after reading information on a website called “The Runaway Guide.”

The creator of that website, identified only as Leif, says on the site that he ran away from home when he was 16 and is now 24. He wrote an article posted on his site Dec. 16, 2012, entitled, “How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Run Away & Travel the World.”

“If you think you can handle the guilt of putting your parents through unimaginable worry, anguish, depression and dishonor, you could just run away without a word,” he wrote last December. “However, this is a pain I know firsthand and can tell you that it isn’t the way to go. Therefore, no matter how you think your parents might react, it is in your best interest to at least try to convince them to let you go. It is a first step that I highly recommend.”

However, the website suggests that determined potential runaways practice dumpster diving at the supermarket for free food and to sleep in the woods. It also tells prospective runaways to save up money and either leave home in the middle of the night, or get off the school bus at a different stop and then go to the nearest train or bus station to leave town.

The website also has a Facebook page, and Jonathan’s dad said his son told him that’s where he met some men who picked him up.

The last the Chryslers heard from their son was Friday night, when he called his parents from a cell phone with a Montana area code.  He said he was near Spokane. Jonathan’s father said that during the call, one of the purported men grabbed the phone away from his son.

“I started a conversation with him and he (the stranger) started threatening me and telling me how he was going to kill me and my family if we told the authorities anything about him or his whereabouts,” Chrysler said of the man on the phone. He said he reported this to police.

Sgt. Dave Campbell of the Sequim Police Department told the Peninsula Daily News that the department’s investigation raised questions about the validity of the boy’s story.

“As far as we can tell, the child is not in any current danger,” Campbell told the newspaper.

The creator of The Runaway Guide put up a new disclaimer on his site that states, “’The Runaway Guide’  does not condone or encourage literally running away if you are not an adult.”

Leif also responded to Q13 FOX News about the Sequim case, saying,I’m very sorry about this situation, but I will not be held responsible for it. However, I will do my best to help, not out of guilt but out of compassion. In fact, I have already tried to make contact with him. My site and Facebook page is first and foremost a travel adventure blog.  It is a place where I chronicle my travels. It is not a place where ‘kids meet adults.’

“The title refers to figuratively running away. Most people understand this. However, since I was once a runaway and it is an integral part of my life and story, I can’t leave this part out.  Most of my readers are backpackers and people who aspire to travel.  Yes, my site glorifies travel, but it does not glorify literally running away for teens. It is a point I am quite clear about throughout my site.”

The Chrysler family posted a plea on Facebook to take down “The Runaway Guide” page.  Facebook said no, that it didn’t feel the page violated its content guidelines.

Police said they believe Jonathan Chrysler could be traveling in a black four-door Nissan with several men, one of whom could be a 34-year-old Hispanic man named Will.

If you have any information, police ask that you call 911.

leif runaway guide

Courtesy of “The Runaway Guide”

On Monday, Leif, the author behind the website “The Runaway Guide,” responded on his blog with the following post:

You guys aren’t going to believe this but I’ve made Fox News! And of course their story is as ill-informed and ill-researched as all of their news stories.

Here’s what I have to say to Fox and the hundreds who have messaged me

I’m very sorry about this situation but I will not be held responsible for it. However, I will do my best to help, not out of guilt but out of compassion. In fact, I have already tried to make contact with him.

My site and fb page is first and foremost a travel adventure blog. It is a place where I chronicle my travels. It is not a place where “kids meet adults” as claimed by fox news.

The title refers to figuratively running away. Most people understand this. However, since I was once a runaway and it is an integral part of my life and story, I can’t leave this part out.

Most of my readers are backpackers and people who aspire to travel.

Yes my site glorifies travel, but it does not glorify literally running away for teens. It is a point I am quite clear about throughout my site.

For the complete post by Leif, go here.

runaway guideA local teenager runs away from home and some believe the website “Runaway Guide” may have given him a step-by-step process to plan his getaway. Mary Steele, executive director of New Horizons, a drop-in shelter for runaways in Seattle, talked about the dangers of the website.

sequimSEQUIM, Wash. — Jonathan Chrysler from Sequim ran away from home Wednesday.

The 15-year-old told his parents he didn’t want to live under their roof and their rules. He took off with people he didn’t know — people he met through the website Runaway Guide. It gives a step-by-step explanation through the process of packing a bag and finding cheap room and board.

“I think it’s sickening. I can’t believe somebody would put something like that up (online) to help kids be able to do such a thing,” Jon Chrysler, Jonathan’s dad, said.

The website is written by a young man who ran away when he was 16. He glamorizes the homeless lifestyle and claims you can travel the world. In response to our coverage of the site, site author and travel blogger Leif, responds here.

Melinda Giovengo, executive director at YouthCare, said the streets are full of dangers for kids.

“The longer you’re out there, the more victimized you’re going to be, the more abused you’re going be, and the more desperate you’re going to get to figure out a way to survive,” she said.

Giovengo is upset a site like that even exists.

“You know, it actually makes me really sad, really sad, that someone would have this kind of information out there to lure young people out to the streets.”

The Chryslers want to get the word out to parents about the site, and they want their son to get this message.

“There’s nothing he can do or say that is going to make me love him any less, and (I ask) for him to please come home,” Jonathan’s mom, Tiffani, said.

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