A “super smart” teenage boy who was obsessed with the film Into the Wild has been found dead a week after his car was discovered abandoned in a remote stretch of the US state of Oregon.
Local authorities say they are investigating Johnathan Croom’s death as suicide after his body was found less than 1,000 feet from his Honda CRV, which was parked on a quiet road close to the isolated town of Riddle.
Dwes Huton, public information officer for Douglas County Sherriff’s Office, said foul play is not suspected in either Johnathan’s disappearance or his death, but it is not yet known why he may have committed suicide.
During the initial search for Johnathan, his father David revealed that the 18-year-old had recently grown “obsessed” with the film Into the Wild, in which the main character Chris McCandless disappears into the Alaskan wilderness as part of a journey of self-discovery.
Although he initially feels liberated living off the land, McCandless grows increasingly discontent; eventually dying by accidentally eating a poisonous plant while longing to return to the family he left behind.
Johnathan had reportedly shown an increasing desire to emulate the character over the last six months, with his father saying he considered it the most likely theory for his disappearance.
The Arizona-native was last seen visiting a friend in Seattle early last week, with his father assuming he would be driving back though Oregon, California and Nevada in time to start college at Mesa Community College last Friday.
Johnathan’s abandoned car was discovered last Wednesday however, close to the small town of Riddle, which is said to be dozens of miles from the nearest wilderness area, and not far from a major interstate highway.
The vehicle’s discovery sparked a frantic search in and around the well-populated by usually sleepy town, not least because Johnathan had few belongings with him, and very limited camping experience.