SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The City of Branson honored a young musician who helped find a missing teenager, thanks to a well-timed text message.
Colton Cooper, the son of longtime Branson musician Clay Cooper, has been performing in Branson since he was 18 months old, but one show in August was likely one he’ll remember forever.
How a text message alerted Colton Cooper of trouble
We are not naming the victim out of respect for his privacy.
“Colton gets a text message from a group of buddies that he goes to school with,” Clay Cooper, Colton’s father and Branson Alderman said. “They’re like, ‘Hey, y’all remember this kid from school?’”
The text said Colton Cooper’s former classmate was missing. It turns out, the classmate was at the show and had asked to see Colton.
“Colton runs into the dressing room. It’s like, ‘Dad, the kid that wanted to see me out front is a missing person,’” said Clay Cooper.
“He was in the audience. He’s a missing person. And from there, my dad had called the sheriff and they got him to safety and it was just crazy,” Colton added.
Cooper, along with his family learned the missing person had actually shown up at the Clay Cooper Theatre and was seated in the audience before deputies arrived.
How getting help for the teen was a family effort
Colton Cooper received an award for his efforts in spotting a former classmate, a 19-year-old who has autism, in the theatre just days after the classmate was reported missing.
“Colton’s actions that night is a great example of someone who helps the community…helps to keep this community safe,” Branson Mayor Larry Milton said at the Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night. “Colton, I’m very proud of you for doing this.”
Cooper accepted the award from the board but gave credit to his friends and family.
“So that word was the ‘You Got Caught’ award for good actions in town and I guess it’s voted on and it was a great feeling to get that award,” Cooper said. “But again, it wasn’t just me that made this happen.”
Suspect’s arrest, charges and what’s next
When police showed up at the theatre, they found the 19-year-old with 67-year-old Mark Wedlock.
Wedlock initially claimed to be the victim’s grandfather but was arrested and charged with sodomy.
Colton Cooper said he hopes the victim is doing better.
“I haven’t gotten to talk to him, but I hope he’s safe and good at home,” he said.
Wedlock’s scheduled to appear in court on October 18. Court documents say the victim is in the custody of the state.