Sunday morning one Indian Harbour Beach family woke up to a parent’s worst nightmare – an empty bed where their young son should be.
To compound the scary situation, 6-year-old Korbean Miller is autistic, making it a bit tougher to predict his behavior. Police who responded to the missing child call around 10 a.m. were told that the homeschool student normally preferred the comfort of his home environment to life outside the family’s condominium, that he had to be coaxed to venture out, or to go places when necessary.
Indian Harbour Beach Police Chief David Butler said upon that initial assessment, and based upon the age of the child and the autism factor, his department marshaled every available person and resource to search for Korbean, who was last seen barefoot in a blue Star Wars T-shirt and shorts.
“Within 40 minutes, we had 50 people out there,” Butler said.
Detectives came in on their day off and went door to door in the Pinetree Condominium complex. After answering the door, neighbors joined the search. The Indian Harbour Beach Volunteer Fire Department was alerted and reported for duty to fan out and canvass the neighborhood, which includes ballfields, school playgrounds, the Lowe’s shopping plaza and beaches within a couple blocks of the condos. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office sent its STAR helicopters and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent members of its Child Abduction Response Team to be at the ready in case the investigation turned up any signs of foul play. The Satellite Beach Police Department also assisted.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey also sent his four-legged detectives who ended up solving the case. Bloodhounds tracked Korbean from his family’s condominium to another nearby condo unit.
“We had knocked on the door to that unit, but he didn’t answer,” Chief Butler said.
Like most kids, Korbean had been taught not to answer the door if he was alone, so he just sat there watching television. The condo was a familiar place to him, a friend used to live in that unit, but recently moved. The new residents were away and Korbean got into the condo.
“When we were out knocking on doors, somebody spotted him running out of one of the condos,” Chief Butler said.
In less than two hours, Korbean was found safe, checked out by paramedics and found to be OK. A press release sent out by the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department said that the Florida Department of Children and Families would be conducting a routine look into the incident, as is standard procedure.
In a case that could have gone sideways in a dozen ways, Chief Butler said everyone involved was extremely relieved at the happy conclusion. “Overall it was a great response, Brevard County is very fortunate that all the agencies have a very good working relationship” he said.
Butler said the local agencies train together for just such an event, so if it unfortunately happens, everyone knows where to be and what to do. Indian Harbour Beach’s officers are also taught to handle calls and cases involving children and adults on the autism spectrum, so the search for Korbean employed more than one type of specialized training.
“This kind of case is the reason why we go into police work,” Chief Butler said. “We all have children of our own, and would hope under other circumstances, if it was our own child that we’d have the same type of response.”