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UPDATE: Missing 13-year-old Howard Beach boy found at train station

| mhayes@queenscourier.com


A 13-year-old initially thought to have possibly been kidnapped was found just trying to go to the beach.

Griffin Dreger, who was thought to be missing Friday morning, was found at the at the Jamaica LIRR station the same day around 3 p.m., unharmed. Police said he was trying to buy a train ticket to Montauk Point.

This morning at about 6:40 a.m., Dreger went to take out the trash, just as he does every morning outside his Howard Beach co-op. After a few minutes, Dreger’s stepfather, Juan Palacios, went outside to find him, only to realize he wasn’t there.

“I just started screaming his name,” Palacios said. “I thought he got kidnapped.”

Palacios and his wife called police, and a search ensued. His wife spent a portion of the day with detectives while family and friends placed “missing” flyers around their Lindenwood neighborhood.

After the initial missing report, over a dozen cops, at least a dozen detectives, three police dogs and helicopters were sent out to find the missing boy, according to a police source.

As the facts came in, police started to look at the case “more as a runaway” and not as an “abduction,” the source said.

“Initially . . . we started thinking maybe there is a chance [of kidnapping], but now most of the facts are pointing to a runaway,” said the law enforcement source.

Palacios’ mother said “he’s a good kid, he wouldn’t run away.”

“He’s a good kid,” echoed neighbor Annmarie Hegarty. “He doesn’t roam the boulevard. I always ask, ‘Where’s Griffin?’ They say he’s upstairs studying.”

Palacios said last night Dreger wanted him, his stepfather and mother to all “play hooky” and spend the day together.

A video camera near the dumpster caught Dreger this morning “jogging” to the trashcan, throwing in the bag and then “jogging” away. Police said there was no urgency in how he was moving, Palacios said.

“We’re hoping he’s playing hooky,” he said. “I hope he comes back. I hope he’s alright.”