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Eli Rabago

Family, friends of missing teen swarm 1st/Ft. Lowell area

Reported sightings of developmentally disabled man continue

The family of a missing developmentally disabled 19-year-old man who was reported missing Sunday has received more reports of the teen being spotted in the First Avenue and Fort Lowell Road area, his father said Wednesday.

Eli Solomon Rabago, of Phoenix, was visiting his grandparents' home near Skyline and Sunrise drives when he went missing Sunday morning. He was last seen around 7 a.m., the Pima County Sheriff's Department said.

The first reported sightings of Eli Rabago in the area near First and Fort Lowell were received Monday. By 11:30 Wednesday morning, his family posted on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the young man that he had again been spotted in the area and urged volunteers to swarm the vicinity.

The post told volunteers, whom the family is now calling the "Pink Shoelace Crew" due to the color of the Eli's shoestrings, that someone matching the teen's description was spotted near the CODAC building, 3100 N. First Ave.

The post also said the person fitting Eli's description was wearing red shorts and walking with a limp.

Eli sprained his ankle last week at school, said Ruben Rabago, Eli's father. As for the red shorts, Rabago said that Eli always packs extra clothing when visiting family and it was initially reported that he may have taken his bag of belongings with him.

The nights without their son are very difficult, Rabago said, especially with the chilly temperatures Tucson has had.

"The nights are the hardest. You don't sleep — you worry constantly. You can't wait for the morning to come so you can start (looking) again," he said.

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As to where Eli might find a place to sleep, his family asked Tuesday evening in a Facebook post that people try to think like he might in finding shelter:

It is cold, but there are covered area in parks. Parking garages, all night laundermats, empty houses, etc... The truth is when you have a special needs person in your life, it is not about them coming to your level of understanding, but you going into their world and meet them where they are. So, I challenge to think like a scared 11 year old little boy in a 19 year old body. What would you do? Where would you go in this city?

On Tuesday, Eli's aunt and a family friend spoke with people at Navajo Park near First and Fort Lowell who confirmed seeing the missing man at Food City, Rabago said.

Eli Rabago, who requires medication, has reportedly been seen in the area of the Navajo Park and at the Food City several times since Monday.

A man at Navajo Park reported seeing a young man fitting Eli Rabago's description at the Food City on Monday, said Vince Rabago, a cousin.

There had been an earlier report of Eli being spotted near Speedway Boulevard and Swan Road around 3 p.m. on Sunday, said Vince Rabago, Ruben Rabago's cousin.

Eli's grandparents recently moved to 3800 block of East Marshall Gulch Place, and the young man is not familiar with the area, or with Tucson, Ruben Rabago said.

Ruben Rabago said Monday that Eli had wandered off before in Phoenix, but not in this manner.

"He's taken off, but not in this situation. He's never done this in Tucson and he's unfamiliar with that part of town," Ruben Rabago said.

Ruben Rabago also said that although his son has the intellectual ability of an 11-year-old, his judgment is impaired and he needs medication.

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"He's a sweet spirit and definitely scared," he said.

Eli Rabago is afraid of the desert and desert animals, so he likely will stick to city streets, his father and cousin said.

Eli also can be frightened by strangers and his father asks that if anyone sees him to report it to the police right away and keep an eye on him, but to avoid approaching him or he may flee.

"He's good at appearing normal, but he has autistic tendencies," his father said.

Eli Rabago is Hispanic, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighs 145 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue sweat pants, a red shirt, a gray hoodie, and gray New Balance tennis shoes with pink shoelaces. He may be carrying a red bag with personal items. He may be walking with a limp and now wearing red shorts.

Anyone with information about him should call 911.

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Courtesy Rabago family

Eli Rabago

“The nights are the hardest. You don’t sleep — you worry constantly. You can’t wait for the morning to come so you can start (looking) again.”

— Ruben Rabago, father of Eli Rabago