HOUSTON (Reuters) - A 14-year-old Texas boy who went missing for nearly three days was discovered living at a Walmart store where he had carved out hiding places in shelves stacked with products and foraged for food in other aisles, police and news reports said on Wednesday.
The boy slept in two makeshift shelters hidden from public view at a store in Corsicana, one in the baby gear aisle behind boxes of strollers and the other behind bulk paper towels and toilet paper, according to CBS Dallas.
After he was discovered on July 30, “the juvenile was transported to the police department and later that night to the care of licensed professionals for follow-up care,” police in Corsicana, 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Dallas, said on Wednesday.
Child protective services said they have been looking into the case.
Police said they were notified that the boy had run away from his aunt’s home, where he was visiting while his parents were out of town.
The boy’s mother told police he has a history of running away and hiding in businesses and abandoned houses and near creeks, police said.
Brian Nick, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc, said: “This is a sad situation and we are still looking into the details of what happened. As soon as our manager learned that the child was hiding in our store we contacted authorities for help. We hope the child is safe.”
Store employees discovered the boy, who has not been identified, after a trash trail led to one of his lairs, CBS Dallas said, citing employees.
The company said he was discovered by a store associate near a baby apparel section.
The boy is thought to have worn diapers instead of using the store restroom and changed outfits to avoid being detected by store employees, it said.
Still photographs of the boy’s stockpile released by the broadcaster showed an opened Pop-Tart box and empty chocolate-milk bottle.
Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham