Father of missing 5-year-old describes agonizing search for his autistic son

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The father of missing 5-year-old Joe Clyde Daniels spoke out for the first time since going missing, saying he is puzzled by Joe’s disappearance.

Joseph Daniels talked with NewsChannel 5 Thursday night. He said he woke up to get the boys out of bed Wednesday morning – Joe slept in the same room with one of his brothers – but it quickly became apparent he was not there.

Daniels said he noticed the door was unlocked and realized his son must have gone outside sometime during the night. He said Joe has wandered off before during the day and was easily found nearby, but he had never left at night.

Many have wondered why Joe’s parents haven’t joined search crews to look for their boy, but Daniels said investigators suggested he and his wife not take part because their scent might distract the K-9 units from the similar scent left by their son.

Daniels told NewsChannel 5 police collected Joe’s scent from his clothing and his pillow to expose to the search dogs.

Police have questioned both Daniels and his wife and have kept in constant contact with them during the massive manhunt.

Daniels said he was very concerned that search crews have found very little sign of his son. He hopes that he is still out there somewhere – maybe lost and somehow staying warm.

However, even through the hope, he said he is seriously considering the possibility someone abducted his son.

The sheriff has said there has been no indication of foul play, but he also would not rule it out.

Daniels said Joe, who is autistic and non-verbal, would normally not approach a home or individual to ask for help. He said Joe typically does not engage with others and would normally keep his distance, but under such extreme circumstances it’s hard to know what he would do.

The family, of course, is very worried. Daniels said they are very appreciative of law enforcement and the amazing outpouring of volunteers helping in the search.

Daniels said it has been simply an agonizing wait to see if somehow, someway their little boy is found safe.

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