By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — Clallam County sheriff's deputies are on the lookout for a 13-year-old Port Angeles boy missing for three weeks and are seeking the public's help in finding him.
Joshua Gershon was reported by his stepfather, Otto Gershon, as having run away from his home in east Port Angeles on Oct. 3, Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron said Tuesday.
Joshua, who has run away before, was last seen east of Port Angeles wearing blue jeans, a dark blue coat and tennis shoes, the Sheriff's Office said.
He is about 5 feet tall, weighs 90 pounds and has short brown hair and blue eyes.
Deputies are encouraging anyone with information on Joshua's whereabouts or anyone who thinks he or she might have seen him to call Clallam County sheriff's dispatch at 360-417-2459.
Cameron said the last firm report of Joshua was a sighting close to his house a day or two after Oct. 3.
A sheriff's deputy received a tip of a child resembling Joshua at the Port Angeles Albertsons supermarket Monday night, Cameron said, though the child was gone before deputies arrived.
On Tuesday, Otto Gershon said Joshua's biological parents died within three years of each other — his father in 2004 and mother in 2007 — and said Joshua is still dealing with issues surrounding their deaths.
Although Joshua was reported as a runaway Oct. 3, Cameron said the Sheriff's Office does not publicize all reports of runaway children they receive.
“We get them fairly often,” Cameron said.
Runaway-child cases are not typically passed from the deputy who took the report to a detective until 30 days have elapsed, Cameron said.
He described the lack of leads regarding Joshua's whereabouts since Oct. 3 as “unusual.”
“We're obviously very concerned,” he said.
Joshua's name has been entered into a national law enforcement database so police departments across the country will know that he has been reported as a runaway if they come across a child matching his description, Cameron said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Joshua's name had not yet been entered into the database of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, although Cameron said the sheriff's department had shared Gershon's information with the organization.
No Amber Alert has been issued for Joshua, Cameron said, since they are specifically for children thought to have been forcibly abducted and who have been missing for fewer than four hours.
Cameron said, however, that he knows that Joshua's family members are actively searching for him and have begun distributing fliers.
Gershon said Joshua has run away three times within the past year but always for only a night or two.
Additionally, Gershon said other members of Joshua's home-school community typically saw Joshua once or twice the last several times he ran away, though no such sightings have occurred this time.
Joshua, a first-chair flautist in the Northwinds Homeschool Band in Port Angeles, is taking high-school-level lessons, Gershon said.
Gershon said he fears for his stepson's safety, and what will happen if Joshua continues to run away.
“He's going to lose everything he has worked for and everything he has loved,” Gershon said.
“Running away will make his life more difficult.”
Gershon could not guess where Joshua might be but said the last time he ran away, police found him sleeping in a hotel lobby.
Joshua did not return home of his own accord whenever he ran away, Gershon said.
Asked what he might say to bring Joshua back, Gershon replied:
“That I love him, and that I understand the struggles he's going through.”
“He knows his dad is here to help.”
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.