Help reconnect a Family: Missing South Carolina teen spotted in Snoqualmie Valley; mother offers heartfelt letter

Over the past week, flyers have been posted throughout the Snoqualmie Valley in hopes of reconnecting a South Carolina family with their missing 17-year old son who was recently spotted in Issaquah and North Bend.

Snoqualmie Valley Shelter Services Director Jennifer Kirk explained via email that Joshua Varhola ran away on August 23rd and is registered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His parents flew to Seattle late last week after Joshua was spotted in Issaquah and downtown North Bend. They visited the shelter center, which rallied to help reconnected the family, as shelter guests, had reported seeing Joshua on August 20th and 31st.

Unfortunately Joshua has not been located yet, but the family is not giving up hope. He is described as a white male, 5’10” and 140 pounds. Although sighting reports stated Joshua was wearing men’s clothing, he is also said to present as transgender and sometimes goes by the name Jody.

If you spot Joshua you are asked not to approach as it could create anxiety. You are asked instead to call 911. Both Issaquah and Snoqualmie Police Departments are aware of the situation and are trying to help the family.

[Photos of Joshua are below.]

Joshua’s family offered this letter for the community:

There are fewer scarier things in life than having a loved one disappear. In our tireless effort to reach out and locate Josh nothing has become easier to bare. As time continues to pass, our hearts grow heavier. The fear of the unkown is overwhelming.

Josh is an amazing young man with a gentle soul. We realize that many people may not understand why he ran away from home. To be honest, we cannot explain why. The confusion and agony that he must have felt is unbearable to comprehend. We were unaware that he was struggling with his identity. We were informed through his friends of this fact after his disappearance.

We reside in a conservative state. Our family as a whole does not know much about the LGBTQ community. However, we will become educated. We love Josh and desperately want him home safe. We want him to be able to feel comfortable being whomever he is along with feeling safe, secure, and loved.

Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to Issaquah police, Snoqualamie Police, the local food banks, the local shelters, the entire communities of Issaquah, Snoqualamie and North Bend, including the homeless. Your kindness has touched us and we will forever be changed by your generosity.

This has been not only an eye-opening experience, but a humbling one. It is with your kindness that we remain hopeful that we can bring Joshua – a brilliant and amazing  son, a brother, a grandson, and a friend – home.

You will see us in your communities walking your streets until we bring Josh home. If it were possible to personally thank each and every one of you, we would.

With love,

The family of Joshua Varhola


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