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Father: Movie may have influenced missing Mesa teen

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APACHE JUNCTION, AZ (CBS5) -

The father of a Mesa teenager believed missing in Oregon said his son might have vanished on purpose.

David Croom said 18-year-old Jonathan Croom and a friend he was visiting in Washington state were intrigued by the movie Into the Wild.

"Apparently, once a month he's been watching this video of Into the Wild," David Croom said. "It's a movie about a guy who drops everything and takes off. (Jonathan has) apparently been fascinated with this."

Before leaving Washington, Jonathan Croom's friend gave him some camping gear, a survival book and a sweatshirt, David Croom told CBS 5 News.

Then his son disappeared, leaving his identification, money and everything else inside his SUV, which was found by sheriff's deputies in Riddle, OR.

Monica Croom said her son was visiting with some friends in Seattle. She said he was spreading his wings before starting college and took the road trip alone.

"We're in shock, we're trying to reach out to all our friends and family to please look for him and pray for us," Monica Croom said.

Jonathan Croom was supposed to start at Mesa Community College this week after coming back from the solo road trip to Seattle.

"That's the behavior his mother has - we like to get in the car and explore," she said.

The last time Monica Croom heard from her son was when she got a text from him last Wednesday.

Jonathan Croom lives with his brother in Mesa, so she figured he'd just go back to his place when he got back.

"I thought he had gotten back to the area, and would just show up to school on Monday," she said.

But he didn't and it wasn't until officials found his car that she knew he was missing.

"On Tuesday, the sheriff showed up at our house and said that they had found his car with his belongings and his ID and cash in the car and Jon was nowhere to be found," Monica Croom said.

She said her son is a smart and creative person. She doesn't believe there was anything wrong that would have made him leave his car on purpose.

"I don't know what to think. I don't know what to think," she said.

Monica Croom said Jonathan Croom doesn't know anyone in the area where his car was found. His father is in Oregon working with investigators.

A $5,000 dollar reward is being offered for John Croom's safe return.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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