A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy who flew to Las Vegas last week without a ticket had reportedly been investigated by child protection workers after he stole a car and sneaked into a water park without paying.
Relatives of the unidentified boy who boarded a Delta flight en route to Las Vegas on Thursday have been the subject of four child-protection assessments since December, according to an email from a Hennepin County official obtained by the Star Tribune.
“The reports have been inconsistent and there have been no injuries to the child; however, there is a pattern of behavior,” wrote Janine Moore, area director of the county’s Human Services and Public Health Department.
Moore declined to identify the boy or indicate where his family lives, but said that his mother works at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. An investigation is now being conducted to determine whether she helped him aboard the flight to Nevada.
Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said the flight crew became suspicious midflight because the boy was not on their list of unattended minors. The crew then contacted Las Vegas police, who met them upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services.
"It's hard to piece anything together from his stories why he got on the flight and went to Las Vegas," Hogan said.
The boy is known to county officials as a “challenging” child, Moore wrote, adding that he stole a car two weeks ago and was arrested on a nearby highway. The email did not indicate whether the boy was driving or where he was arrested, the newspaper reports.
The boy also has a history of riding trains to a Bloomington water park, where he “waits until a large family is entering and joins them,” Moore wrote. He has also alleged that his mother held a knife to his throat.
“Typically, staff can tell if a child is lying, but with this child, they are unsure what is going on,” Moore wrote. “This is a two-parent home, and there is at least one other child.”
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s child protection unit is now reviewing the case, a spokesman told the newspaper. Because of his age, the boy cannot be charged with a crime. If investigators determine he has been mistreated, he could be removed from his home. If he has a mental health issue, a “behavioral health response” would follow, Moore wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.