The family of Dane Elkins, 21, marked one month since their son’s disappearance by continuing their pleas for not only their son to return home, but also that the community may assist him in returning home.
Elkins, a Brentwood resident, was last heard from near Interstate 5 and Templin Highway around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 21. At that last known location in Castaic, investigators found his abandoned car with flat tires, as well as his wallet, cellphone and laptop.
Deborah Elkins, the missing man’s mother, said she believes he could have hitchhiked or traveled to a number of locations and that she is attempting to get the word out in communities throughout Southern California, as well as in Kern County, to be on the lookout for her son.
The family said Wednesday that the events leading up Elkins’ disappearance were precipitated by a series of decisions he made that they associated with metastasizing mental health issues.
Deborah said her son is a 23-time world racquetball champion who has always been regarded as smart, sweet and/or funny by his friends and family.
However, in recent months Elkins’ mental health began to increasingly deteriorate, something she attributes, in part, to COVID-19.
“He did say before he disappeared, ‘I have to find myself, I want to drive,’” said Deborah. “And he went through the whole paranoid episode, and he thought there were people after him.”
“We never heard him talk like that before, either,” she added.
Elkins, who was living with his parents at the time, then told his family he was leaving to go live with friends. However, his friends said they hadn’t seen him or had lost contact with him, as well.
“He said, ‘I’m just going to stay with different friends,’” said Deborah. “But, according to all his friends, he was living in his car most of the time. He didn’t really stay with anyone and he suffered a mental breakdown.”
On Dec. 21, which investigators have said was the last time his family heard from him, Elkins’ car broke down due to the flat tires, his mother said. He then called 9-1-1 a few times, she said, saying he wasn’t feeling well.
However, when law enforcement arrived on the scene to help, Elkins was gone and his car was left on the side of the road.
“He doesn’t have anything on him,” Deborah said. “And we don’t know what happened.”
Search crews were dispatched to Castaic in the following days, law enforcement has issued statements and photos of the 21-year-old, and the family has hired their own detective to assist in the search. By week four of his disappearance, a number of social media pages and groups have formed, consisting of thousands of members and viewers, all in the effort to help bring Elkins home.
“We miss him, we want him to come home, we can’t wait to see him, and we’ll have his favorite Mexican food when he comes home,” said Deborah. “We just miss him.”
Elkins is described as 21 years old with green eyes, brown hair, 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 170 pounds. Law enforcement has said he suffers from mental illness and paranoid thoughts, and is in need of urgent care.
If spotted, investigators have asked community members to follow him discreetly, call 9-1-1 and take photos.
Investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department Adult Missing Persons unit did not return calls for comment on Wednesday.
Information about Elkins possible whereabouts can be provided to the official “Searching for Dane Elkins” social media pages or can be emailed directly to the family at [email protected].
Information can also be provided to the Los Angeles Police Department, Missing Persons Unit, at 213-996-1800. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “web tips” and follow the prompts.