WENDELL, N.C. (WNCN) — A happy reunion and ending to a more than 24-hour search for a missing Wake County boy.
Nine-year-old Bentley Stancil was found safe early Wednesday afternoon in Wendell, just about two miles from home.
CBS 17 crews were there, as Wake County deputies walked hand-in-hand with Stancil. They found him in an RV camper off Marshburn Road.
“He was actively hiding at the time,” said Wake County sheriff’s deputies.
Family told CBS 17 they don’t know the people who own the property or the camper.
The woman who owns the place told CBS 17 she is a Johnston County Schools bus driver. She left for work at 5 a.m. and had no idea Stancil was inside.
She said she learned he was found at her home through the news. She does not know how he got inside the camper but added she was grateful he had a place to hide out from the cold.
Stancil seemed overwhelmed with the family, friends, and law enforcement officers surrounding him.
As he was put inside a deputy’s car, he blew kisses and waved to everyone.
His father and sisters are now just relieved that he is safe.
“I can’t put it into words. He came up, jumped 10 feet into my arms and didn’t want to let me go,” said Brandon Stancil, Bentley’s father. “I just wanted to make sure he was alright.”
“We were just so happy that he was ok. That we knew he was safe, he was himself, and that was the main thing we wanted,” added Bentley’s sisters, Harmony Stancil and Jayden Hutchinson.
Investigators said Bentley did not get onto the school bus when he left home Tuesday morning.
That night, a statewide AMBER Alert went out asking people to be on the lookout for him.
People in the community spent Tuesday and Wednesday morning walking around the woods and nearby neighborhoods hoping to try and find him.
A local church even put up a billboard with his picture on it to alert drivers the child was missing.
“It was just amazing to see that there are people like that out there,” said Harmony Stancil. “It was a sigh of relief to know that everyone out here was looking for him and they were taking it seriously, just as if he was their family too.”
She also said that Bentley had not run away before.
Deputies told CBS 17 they had already searched the area where he was found, but after additional information, they looked again and found him.
Now, the big question remains — why he ran off in the first place.
“There’s more work to be done to try and determine if there was a reason for him to leave the way he did. If there’s a reason, and what circumstances those are, that is what we have to do now,” said Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” said Brandon Stancil. “That’s what we got to find out.”
Stancil did not currently live with either of his parents. CBS 17 crews are told he was living with his mother’s sister at the time he left the house.