Chinese teen found in West Hollywood
A Beijing teen missing from a Claremont hotel since Friday, February 13 was found safe and sound in West Hollywood on Monday, thanks to the keen eye of a concerned citizen.
According to Lieutenant Jason Walters, 16-year-old Jin Wuwei had taken a bus from Claremont to Los Angeles on Friday afternoon after telling his mother he was going to tour the Claremont Colleges. Jin was found sitting on a bench on the 8400 block of Sunset Boulevard when someone recognized the teen from local news broadcasts and contacted authorities.
This isn’t the first time six-foot tall, 140-pound Jin had visited the Claremont Colleges.
Both he and his mother had taken a self-guided tour of the campuses Thursday, February 12, walking the grounds of Pitzer College, Pomona College and Claremont McKenna. The pair took photos around the Colleges and ate at a local dining hall before heading to The Huntley Bookstore.
A sales receipt from Huntley obtained by the COURIER showed a number of purchases by Jin, including deodorant, toothpaste and a tooth brush, as well as a roll of duct tape and a pink-colored pepper spray key ring. According to Jin’s mother, the teen had been purchasing items throughout the trip, hiding them in his backpack and acting “secretive.”
The morning he vanished, Jin had used his PayPal account around 3:30 a.m. to purchase ExpressVPN, an online application that allows the user to secure connections and unblock websites in one click. “Watch the content you want from any country on earth, at blazing fast speeds” and “encrypt your Internet traffic and hide your IP address from hackers and spies” taunts the ExpressVPN website.
“He was located by Los Angeles County Sheriffs around 12:15 p.m. today,” said Lt. Walters. “He appeared tired but unharmed. There’s no evidence of foul play.”
The teenager was transported to the Claremont Police Department and interviewed by investigators. He was then reunited with his parents, who have since taken the teen to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center for evaluation citing health concerns.
“He’s been sleeping on the streets,” said Lily Zhuo, a private investigator aiding the family in their search for their only son. “Something isn’t quite right.”
Jin Wuwei was reported missing by his mother, Geng Jipeng, on Friday, February 13 after he walked away from his room at the Claremont Lodge. The boy had told his mother that he wanted to go back up to the Colleges. When Ms. Jipeng offered to give him a ride to the Village, he declined, but agreed to meet with his mother at dusk near the Colleges. When he didn’t show up at the meeting time, she began to worry.
“I called his cell phone but he did not answer,” Ms. Jipeng explained to the COURIER. “He has never done anything like this before. He is a quiet boy.”
A Korean student near the Claremont Library, who spoke some Chinese, helped Ms. Jipeng contact the Claremont Police Department and an investigation began to locate the missing teen. Ms. Jipeng provided police with photos and a description of her son, noting that he speaks fluent English and does not have any family or friends in the area.
According to Ms. Jipeng, her son left behind most of his clothes and his three beloved books—Jane Eyre, To Kill A Mockingbird and Peter Pan. He took with him a laptop, $500 in cash as well as a credit card, cell phone and charger.
A still image taken from a hotel security camera showed the teenager, equipped with a full backpack, strolling north on Indian Hill Boulevard around 12:42 p.m. He was last seen wearing a dark-colored hoodie and sweatpants with a white line on the outer seam. His whereabouts following that image were unknown.
It remains unclear why Jin hopped a bus to West Hollywood from Claremont without telling anyone. Perhaps he was just looking for an experience to share with others down the road.
“Jin wanted to go to school in the United States to be a writer,” says Ms. Zhou. “He will still need to speak with his parents about what is in his future. They are just happy he is found.”