Family desperately searching for missing teen with autism, blames care facility for lack of supervision

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A family is desperately searching for a  15-year-old boy with autism who's been missing since Friday.

Zachary Deutsch walked away from Ozanam, a residential youth treatment facility in Martin City. But he's not the only one to disappear from that facility.

At least 11 kids have gone missing from Ozanam within the past week. Zachary is still missing.

Parents are now demanding action to keep kids safe.

Brenda Deutsch is a mom to 16 kids, many of them adopted through the foster care system. She's had Zachary since he was two.

Zachary Deutsch

"From early on, he's had issues with controlling his anger and wandering and breaking things. He's been in and out of the psych ward many times," Deutsch said.

She called family services, hoping to find a good place where Zak could get the help he needed. The family lives in a small town north of St. Louis, but Zak was sent across the state to Ozanam in Kansas City, where he was admitted July 30.

"I got a call on August 3rd saying, 'Hi mom. I'm doing good.' He told me he loved me, and later that evening, he disappeared," Deutsch said.

But she didn't know Zak was missing until August 6th.

"I counted on a facility that's being paid to watch these kids, to keep them safe, and that didn't happen," Deutsch said.

Worse yet, she learned this has happened before.

Amanda Graves' 15-year-old son Kyler is at Ozanam. He's escaped a few times, and the last time, she didn't know he was missing for nearly a full day.

"If they`re doing their job, how are these kids getting out of there?" Graves said.

Cornerstones of Care: Ozanam campus

Kyler has also told his mom he's been physically and verbally abused, and that's why he runs off. Even so, a judge ordered Kyler to go back to Ozanam.

"If they can't take care of these kids they're in charge of, they don't -- they have no business trying to," Graves said.

She's planning to protest and has filed complaints.

Meanwhile, Zak Deutsch's mom is worried sick, not knowing where her son is and fearing the worst.

"I want to shut this place down. No child should be here," she said.

At least 75 kids live at Ozanam, which is operated by Cornerstones of Care. Many kids get referred to the facility by the Division of Family Services.

The CEO of Cornerstones of Care, Denise Cross, told FOX4 that allegations of physical abuse are unsubstantiated.

"We take these incidents very seriously and will continue to take a hard look to see what we can do differently," Cross said in response to the recent runaways.

"The safety and well-being of kids is a top priority," Cross said.

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