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Orange County

Autistic La Habra Man Has Been Missing 4 Days

January 11, 2003|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

Police and family members were searching Friday for an autistic and mentally disabled La Habra man who left his home to go for a walk four days ago and disappeared.

Diego Arechiga, 27, left the house he shares with his mother in the 200 block of East Rosecrest Avenue about 10 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

"We're dealing with someone who has severely limited communication skills," said Cindy Knapp, a spokeswoman for the La Habra Police Department.

"We are really anxious for someone, if they have seen him or someone who matches his description, to contact us," Knapp said.

The concern is heightened, Knapp said, because Arechiga is several days late in taking medication to prevent seizures. "The family is very concerned, as are we," Knapp said.

Arechiga, who recently moved to La Habra from Rosemead, was reported missing by his mother Tuesday night. A search by bloodhounds, Knapp said, tracked his scent to Fullerton, where it disappeared.

"He may have gotten on a bus," she said, "or it may have been an old scent."

Arechiga -- described as Latino, 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown hair, brown eyes and weighing about 160 pounds -- enjoys riding on buses and spending time in malls.

Although there is no evidence of foul play, Knapp said, "With the amount of time he's been gone, something else may have occurred."

Anyone who has possible knowledge of Arechiga's whereabouts should call the La Habra Police Department at (562) 905-9750.

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