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In 1984, William was residing at a group home, The Children's Home Society, on New Airport Road in Auburn, California. He was sent to live in the home as part of his sentence for stealing $8 worth of beer from a business. William and some other residents of the home sneaked out and attended a party in a town near Auburn on March 23, 1984. The boys drank beer until 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. before leaving for home. Their vehicle ran out of gasoline on Interstate 80 near Dry Creek Road. William stayed behind with the car while his companions walked to purchase fuel. His friends discovered that William had disappeared while they were at the gas station. He has never been heard from again.
William was a student at Golden Sierra High School at the time of his disappearance. His family describes him as an energetic youth who knew how to ride horses and rope cattle. Some agencies may classify William as a runaway.
Placer County Sheriff's Department