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Chicago Boy Missing Overnight Back With Family, Says He Was Afraid of Gunfire After Going to Friend’s House 

A young boy from Chicago who went missing on Tuesday is now safe after he did not come home from school.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Michael Campbell returned home in a car that morning after sleeping over at a friend’s house the night of Jan. 8. No one at the home informed the 9-year-old’s family about the impromptu sleepover.

Michael was expected home from John Harvard Elementary School, which wraps the day at 3 p.m. Michael, who lives just one block away from the Englewood neighborhood school, gets home no later than 4:15 p.m. Michael’s mother, Elmarita Fletcher, said her son typically comes home with his 11-year-old brother but there would be times where they’d leave school separately. His brother had last seen Michael during the school lunch hour.

By the time 4:45 rolled around and Michael still hadn’t shown up, his family began looking for him for several hours to no avail. By 8:40 p.m., Fletcher called the police.

Authorities used materials such as spotlights to look through nearby alleys and yards throughout the night. His backpack was found by a dumpster, according to a claim by WGN reporter. Although some of Michael’s things had been found in an alley, the boy was not nearby.

As the search wore on, Michael’s family, who talked to children in the area about the boy’s whereabouts, spoke to reporters and pleaded for him to return home.

“Mikey, try to find some way to get in contact with your parents; your mom, your dad, somebody, anybody. Baby, please, please come home,” Fletcher said, noting she had already checked the homes of relatives to see if he was there.

By 9 a.m. Wednesday, the search was over.

Michael had been at a friend’s house, where his father told WGN he fell asleep after playing video games. Chris Campbell, who stayed up all night searching for the boy, said his son told him he was too afraid to come home after hearing gunfire when he went to his friend’s place. Michael didn’t tell his parents he was going over there but asked his friend’s mother if he could spend the night, which she allowed him to do.

The family is disappointed the mother, whom they do not know, did not think to contact them about their son’s plans, or walk Michael home. The boy’s friend’s house did not have a phone so they were unable to call, according to a relative at the news conference.

After being reunited with his father just a few blocks away from the child’s home, he was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital for a precautionary checkup.

Michael’s family, who credited social media for their son’s finding, said he seems OK and is less likely to go anywhere without telling them first.

“I’d like to thank — you don’t hear this much — CPD. They came in and they didn’t give up and they worked just as hard as I worked,” Campbell said at a Jan. 9 news conference.

He added that he was “thinking the truth” that morning about how important it was to find his son.

“If you don’t find him in 24 hours, you probably won’t find him,” he shared with media.

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