NEWARK - The family of a Marlboro teen missing for a week has much to be thankful for tonight.
Michael Karwan, 19, stepped off a plane in Newark Liberty International Airport Wednesday and into the arms of friends and family that searched for him.
His father Walter Karwan says it was an exhausting week. "It might be only seven days, but for us it was an eternity," he says.
The autistic teen, who had never even gone to the movies by himself, managed to buy bus tickets and travel to Cleveland, Ohio. The family is still trying to figure out the details.
The teenager disappeared from the family's Marlboro home a week ago, triggering a multi-agency, multi-state search.
The searchers came remarkably close to finding Michael last Tuesday. "He was literally a mile or two away from where we were canvassing," Walter Karwan says.
When his parents got the call that he had been found in a shelter, they flew to Cleveland to meet him. "We embraced and cried, and I just told him I loved him. And he said he missed me."
The family is still piecing together his movements, but they believe Michael arrived in Cleveland on Saturday.They are grateful to the shelter worker in Cleveland who recognized Michael from pictures on social media and called police, making the homecoming possible.
Michael was last seen Nov. 19 when a surveillance camera captured an image of him outside the ShopRite on Route 9 in Marlboro. There were other sightings in New York City and upstate New York.