BRENTWOOD, Calif. - It’s been exactly two months since 21-year-old Dane Elkins disappeared and he may be suffering from mental distress due to the pandemic.
Family members say they have every reason to believe he is still alive. They are hoping someone recognizes him and he’s able to come home safe and soon. Elkins’ family passed out flyers at a Starbucks near their home Sunday afternoon.
The UC Santa Cruz engineering student is a 23-time national (12-time world) racquetball champion and has a black belt in Taekwondo. His mom says he suffers from mental distress, which has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 crisis.
"He was feeling isolated during the pandemic," says Deborah Elkins. "He was secretly living in his car and telling us he was staying with friends."
His last known location, four days before Christmas, was southbound on the 5 Freeway near Templin Highway and Pyramid Lake in Castaic.
Elkins had called 911 twice but when officers arrived, he was nowhere to be found. His car was still running with the tires flat and his cell phone, wallet and laptop inside.
"They did a two-day search with helicopters, dogs and the highway patrol looking for Dane," says Deborah.
Elkins is 5-foot-11 with an athletic build and about 170 pounds. He has curly brown hair, green eyes and possibly a beard.
"He’s the highlight of the family and has such a positive impact on everyone," says his younger sister, Maddy. "It’s hard to have such a phenomenal part of your life just missing," adds his younger brother Cody.
His mom says a few homeless people believe they spotted him in Bakersfield where Elkins felt "at home" but any pictures people have sent from all over California are not her son – not yet.
"He has so many friends and so many people waiting for him to come back," says Maddy.
Deborah’s message to her son: "We love and miss you. We just want to get you help, keep you safe and be with you."
If you see Elkins, investigators ask you to follow him discreetly, call 911 and take pictures, which you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information can also be provided to the Los Angeles Police Department, Missing Persons Unit, at 213-996-1800.
During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).
Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD."
Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "web tips" and follow the prompts.