A Columbia teenager in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services remains missing nearly one month after police say he ran away from a private residential treatment facility in Gallatin.
Dylan Regenold, 16, is believed to have escaped from a second-floor window at the Volunteer Youth Academy on South Hickory Drive at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 14, according to his mother Cassara Regenold. Since then, there have been no confirmed sightings or communication from the teenager whose birthday was on Dec. 27.
“We would never have expected this,” she said about the disappearance of her son. “Everything about this is completely against who Dylan is. He would never have been gone this long and not reached out to someone or been seen or heard from.
“There is no way he has survived this long on his own, so if he is still living, he is being helped or held by someone.”
A missing flyer posted on Facebook from the “Find Dylan Regenold” page his family started last month had been shared more than 41,000 times as of Tuesday.
Investigators say they have received multiple leads through social media about possible sightings of the teenager, however none of the information has panned out so far, according to Lt. Lamar Ballard with the Gallatin Police Department.
“Every juvenile that is missing is always a concern to us,” Ballard said. “We would like to know if anybody has had any contact with him or if anybody has seen him.
“He would have had very limited resources and been on foot that we know of.”
They second oldest of six siblings, Dylan has struggled with mental illness, including depression, for most of his life, according to his mother. He has been in the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ (DCS) custody since May 2017 when his parents went to the agency seeking help for their son after exhausting all other known options.
The teenager had been at the Volunteer Youth Academy for about two weeks prior to his escape, according to his family. He had never been to Gallatin before arriving at the facility.
The 24-bed residential treatment center is for males between the ages of 12 and 17 who suffer from behavioral, emotional or mental health issues, according to the facility's website. While the program is designed to last 90 days, the typical stay for a child ranges between four to six months depending on their circumstances.
Cassara Regenold said that while her son has previously run away from DCS facilities in Memphis and Ashland City, he was never gone for more than 12 hours.
“Those two times were impulsive where he was angry and scared in the moment and he took off because he had an opportunity,” she added. “This is very, very, very different. He likes to be around people and talking to people. He doesn’t hide out.”
The 16-year-old is described as being 6-foot 2-inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. He also has green eyes and wavy brown hair that is likely longer than shown in recent pictures.
Dylan’s family says they are thankful for everyone who has continued to share social media posts about his disappearance as well as those who have continued to look for him.
“Every day from the time we wake up to the time we fall asleep, if we’re able to sleep, we are working on finding a way to get him and tap into resources that can help us find him,” Cassara Regenold added. “We just really need for people to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for him and call 911 if they think they see him.
“We really believe that is how he is going to be found.”
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Dylan Regenold should contact Investigator Charles Cook with the Gallatin Police Department at (615) 452-1313, ext. 3288.