Two more boys run away from Lithia Springs home

Two boys ran away from the Lithia Springs Boys Home on Walker Avenue early Tuesday, bringing the total number of runaways to 12 this year.

The pair fled the home for troubled teens at 12:15 a.m., in an apparently concerted runaway effort.

As a result of the incident, Oregon Youth Authority officials will not send any more boys to the 13-bed home until they confer late next week with Community Works, which runs the home, said Ann Snyder, spokeswoman for the Oregon Youth Authority.

"We still support the treatment program at Lithia Springs, we simply need to find a way to get the right youth in there and end the contagion factor that's been going on," she said.

The boys home, run by Community Works, has dealt with a string of "copy-cat" runaway cases this year, said Dan Murphy, president and CEO of the social services nonprofit organization.

"Probably what was brewing among some of the kids in the program is going to have to play out," he said.

In a period of four weeks, ending in mid-February, 10 boys fled the 13-bed home.

Last year, police took 12 reports of runaways from the home, according to Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness.

The two boys who fled Tuesday had not been located as of that afternoon, according to Ashland police and the Oregon Youth Authority.

"Anytime you have juveniles in a runaway status, we're concerned about where they are," said Lt. Corey Falls with the Ashland Police Department.

Both boys are on probation and "have a somewhat lengthy history of minor crimes," including burglaries, Snyder said. Both were at the Ashland treatment facility when other boys fled in February, she said.

Community Works and Oregon Youth Authority officials met last month to study the runaway incidents. They decided to improve security at the facility and add another layer to the screening process for boys entering the home.

All of the boys, age 13 to 18, at the home have committed minor crimes and have been given clearance from the youth authority to attend a non-lockdown treatment program.

The state youth authority gave the boys home its highest rating, "highly effective," in 2009.

Officials have been hesitant to release details about the new security steps being taken, in order to prevent the boys from discovering them, but say the new measures involve more supervision.

"It's not unusual for kids to push back when security gets a little bit tighter," Snyder said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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