Why this boy hasn't been found
By Julie Bisbee Staff Writer
SEMINOLE - Investigators in Seminole County still are trying to determine the fate of Colton Levi Clark, a 9-year-old boy whose adoptive parents say they last saw him April 20, 2006. He had an appointment to meet with a counselor that same day, said Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig.
"It makes you feel hopeless," Craig said. "You've gone out there and searched all this area and you feel like you've failed. We're talking about a 9-year-old boy. There hasn't been a night that I haven't gone to bed and seen this young man's face. I just keep thinking, "Why haven't we found this kid?'"
"Someone knows something"
More than a year after Colton disappeared, leads are exhausted.
A few days after the anniversary of Colton's disappearance, a caller reported seeing a boy who looked like Colton in a local Wal-Mart, but that turned out to be another sandy-haired boy with glasses, Craig said.
The investigation remains open, but the people who might know the most about the hours leading up to Colton's disappearance have stopped talking.
Colton's adoptive parents, Rex and Rebecca Clark, initially helped investigators, saying they thought Colton ran away.
"They gave us consent to search the house; we didn't find anything unusual," Craig said. "But what was odd to me is that they talked about Colt in the past tense right out of the box."
A few days later when the Clarks were asked to take a lie detector test, they refused.
Repeated phone calls from The Oklahoman to the Clarks were unanswered and messages were not returned. The Clarks have offered a $10,000 reward for the safe return of Colton.
"My first thought is that they're trying to hide something," Craig said. "Someone knows something and they aren't telling."
Colton and his older brother Homer haven't had an easy life. Their biological parents battled drug and alcohol addictions throughout their lives, said Jerry Clark, the boys' grandmother, who lives in Nicoma Park.
The boys lived with relatives, including their father's sister, and attended school in the Choctaw area.
Then, they went to live with their father's brother, Rex Clark, and his wife, Rebecca Clark. While they were there, Colton disappeared.
Today, Jerry Clark, is estranged from her son, Rex Clark, and his wife. They haven't communicated since Colton's disappearance.
But problems between them date back further, to when Rebecca Clark told authorities and the media the boys had been molested by other family members.
"They weren't abused, they were just poor little neglected boys," Jerry Clark said, rebutting those allegations. "There's nothing wrong with those boys. I know they were not abused when they were up here. We all helped with them."
At one point, Homer accused his family members, including his grandfather and older sister, of molesting him, but family members took lie detector tests and no charges were ever filed, said the boys' older sister, Raven Womack, 25, of Newalla.
Family members said they lost contact with the boys after Colton and Homer, who changed his name from Austin, moved in with Rex and Rebecca Clark.
Family members who used to pick up the boys on weekends or take them to school every morning no longer were allowed contact with Colton and Homer, said Jerry Clark.
Shortly after moving in with Rex and Rebecca Clark, the boys were taken out of school in Seminole and home-schooled.
In October, Homer Clark, 13, was picked up by authorities, who accused the youth of having broken into a neighbor's home and of taking a gun and a cell phone.
After that, Homer was taken into Department of Human Services custody. The Clarks since have relinquished their parental rights.
Craig said he's interviewed Homer, who said he didn't remember anything about the day Colton disappeared. Family members have been told that Homer is in a foster home somewhere in the state and is doing well, but wants nothing to do with his family.
Rex and Rebecca Clark had been registered nurses for several years before the boys came to live with them. Rex, a Vietnam veteran, voluntarily surrendered his nursing license in 2002. Rebecca's nursing license was suspended the same year. The Oklahoma Board of Nursing investigated complaints that the couple was removing tattoos from juveniles at a Wewoka group home for boys.
Neither was licensed to do that sort of medical procedure and had not obtained signatures from the parents of the three boys investigators say had the procedure, which resulted in third-degree burns and scarring.
Rebecca Clark worked at the facility, Rex did not, according to documents from the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. The Clarks didn't show up for a hearing to discuss the complaints, saying Rex was too ill to attend the hearing and Rebecca had to care for him.
A doctor who was treating Rex Clark at the time said he suffered from a "major depressive disorder with psychoses and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)." The affidavit also said Rex's mental state had worsened by treatment for Hepatitis C.
Family fears boy is dead
Jerry Clark believes Colton is dead, but she continues to pray that his body is found and the family can properly bury him.
"A little boy just don't disappear in a small place like Seminole," Clark said.
Craig said he's not ready to close the case. A glossy flier featuring Colton's face is still taped to the door near Craig's office in Wewoka.
Craig said he expects to try to speak again with his older brother soon about the details of the last day he saw Colton.
"I've been waiting to interview him until he was in a good environment," Craig said. "He's a sharp young man. I think he knows something."
Craig said he initially interviewed the boy when he lived with the Clarks and then met with him again when he was in DHS custody.
"He is a totally different boy," Craig said.
For Jerry Clark, it's unclear what justice is in the disappearance of one grandson and the loss of another one.
"I really do think Colton's life is over," she said. "The only thing that comforts me, if he is dead, is that he went to heaven because he was so young. He deserves a headstone so people can go by and visit him every once in a while."