An autistic man who walked away from a group home leaves clues that he is still alive.
Gordon Page, Jr. or “Gordie,” was born autistic, but his father, Gordon Sr., said it wasn’t until much later in his life that he was diagnosed:
However, according to Gordon Sr., Gordie showed a great propensity for memorization, especially when it came to baseball:
Gordie’s mother, Linda, says Gordy didn’t realize he was slower than the other kids until he reached junior high:
Gordie graduated from a Grand Rapids, Michigan high school in June of 1981. He was ready for his first job. His father helped him apply at a local grocery store:
“He said, ‘Dad, I got the job. I start Monday. Isn’t that great?’ And it made me feel so happy. And I dropped him off at work in the morning. And it made me feel proud as a father to see him working and to see him happy.
But soon, the store manager said that Gordie was having trouble talking to the customers.
His father’s coaching wasn’t enough. It just didn’t work out at the grocery store.
Linda and Gordon were worried about their son’s future. They asked a social worker to evaluate him. He was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. It was recommended that he start living in a group home. Gordon Sr. said they decided to give it a try:
Eventually, Gordie was accepted by a well-regarded group home. There, his medication was adjusted and he started to feel better. In September of 1989, with Gordie in good hands, his parents felt they could finally relocate to Florida as they long planned. Gordie stayed behind in Michigan.
For several months, things went well. But one day while heavily medicated, Gordie stole a truck that was left running in the driveway of the home. According to Detective Chet Bush, Jr. of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, Gordie was involved in a hit-and-run accident:
Gordie was sent to a county hospital. There, psychiatric social worker Bill Arnold evaluated him:
After several months of intensive therapy, Bill realized that Gordie was not schizophrenic; he was autistic:
The Pages found a different group home in Grand Rapids, one that specialized in autism.
On May 22, 1991, Gordon Sr. shared an emotional goodbye with his son:
As his father started to drive away, Gordie broke away from the orderlies and began pounding on the van:
Four days after his father left, Gordie disappeared. An eyewitness reported seeing Gordie hitchhiking toward Interstate 96. A search of the area turned up no leads and Gordie has not been seen since. Linda Page says she and Gordon Sr. just want Gordie back: