Missing teen overdue for return from Mexico trip
LAMB COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - UPDATE 7-28: Missing teen reported safe, returning home this week
When a Springlake-Earth teenager went on a trip to Mexico with a friend on July 19, he was supposed to come back in the next few days.
However, 14-year-old Joe Junior Manzanales has yet to return, leaving his family no choice but to call police on July 24.
"I know all his friends are missing him," said his father, Joe Manzanales. "Everyone is."
The last time Joe Jr.'s grandmother, Eva Manzanales, saw him was on July 19, when he asked her for his passport and social security card.
"He hugged me and kissed me and said thank you grandma, and I gave him his papers," Eva said. "A man was waiting for him [outside] and they took off north."
When she asked who he was going with, he said his friend Omar, who is about 23 years old. Since he got the trip approved with his father, she did not think twice about letting him leave.
"Who am I to say you can't go?" she said. "I don't have authority over him."
But on Monday, Eva could not help but wish she had asked more questions.
"I cry all the time. I told myself I'm not going to stop until I bring him back," Eva said. "I'm going to find a way to bring him back."
Joe says the last phone call they received from his son was when he was in Mexico two days ago and called his aunt.
"She repeated the question to him, 'So someone is hurting you?,'" his stepmom, Patricia Manzanales said, "and he said, 'Yes,' and the phone just cut off. He hasn't called anymore."
It took them off guard for Joe Jr. to say he was scared.
"It's hard not to think about what could've happened," Patricia said.
They say since Joe Jr. does not show much emotion since he was in a car accident seven years ago. That accident killed his mother and oldest sister.
"I think he's scared being over there," Joe said, "and he wants to come back, but his friend doesn't want to bring him back."
Joe has a hard time holding his emotions back, as he hopes police can reunite him with his only son.
"I can't lose another one, so I'm trying to think positive and not negative," he said, "and just hope the thing comes out the way it's supposed to. I just hope he comes back home safe."
Joe Jr. was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt. He has his left ear pierced.
If you have any information about where he is, or about the person he was last seen with, police ask you call the Lamb County Sheriff's Office at 385-7900.
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