Family offers reward in search for runaway teens

A Habersham couple desperate for their son’s safe return is offering a $10,000 reward hoping that someone, somewhere, will find him.

Family members say Joseph Attard, 16, of Cornelia, and his girlfriend Dorothy Krei, 16, of Clarkesville, ran away from home this past weekend. They were last seen in Habersham County around 1 a.m. on September 17 with two of Dorothy’s friends at Pitts Park in Clarkesville, says Attard’s mom, Penny Welborn.

“I just need to know they’re safe,” Welborn tells Now Habersham through her tears.

Reported sighting

Attard and Krei are both eleventh graders at Habersham Central High School. When their parents reported them missing, there was reason to believe the pair might be hitchhiking to Florida. Since then, some of the teens’ friends have said they may be heading to Asheville, North Carolina, or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with possible plans to go to California from there.

Bolstering that claim is a family friend who reported seeing Attard and Krei get out of a black Honda Accord on I-85 in Lavonia around 6 a.m. Saturday. That same friend says she saw them nine hours later in South Carolina. At the time, she did not know they were missing.

Both teens left behind notes. In his handwritten note, Attard apologized to his family for leaving.

“I’m sorry I did this out of nowhere, but I’m really struggling with everything in my life more than before…I love you all very much and, again, I’m sorry to put you all through this,” he wrote. “I will be back so I can finish school and everything. I promise I will be safe.”

Reward offered

The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office issued a lookout with a description of the teens. Attard is 5’9″ tall and weighs 150 pounds. He has blue eyes and bushy, brown, naturally curly hair. Krei is 5’3″ tall, weighs 105 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes.

According to Welborn, the two have never done anything like this before. They left behind their phones, wallets, IDs, and cars. They’re traveling on foot with little money and Welborn believes her son may be carrying some type of military backpack. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a blue Columbia pullover. It is not known what Krei was wearing.

With few new leads and no known direction of travel, Welborn says the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office informed her on Monday there is little more they can do. She’s pleading with the public to help. She asks social media users to continue sharing the flyers and photos of the missing juveniles and for everyone to keep an eye out for them. Anyone who sees them or has information about where they may be should contact their local authorities or HCSO Investigator Cale Garrison at 706-839-0559.

“We just need information. We will gladly give the $10,000 reward to get them home safe,” says an overwrought Welborn. “I just want him home safe. They’re not in trouble. I love him and I want him home.”

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