South L.A. Dementia Patient Reunited With Family Following Arrest After Going Missing for Weeks

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A South Los Angeles man with dementia who was arrested when he turned up in a Pasadena dental office after being missing six weeks was released from custody Friday.

Douglas James, 62, disappeared Nov. 5 after officers took his twin brother into custody for alleged DUI driving and dropped the dementia patient off at a Carl’s Jr. in West Carson.

The location was nearly 12 miles away from his home in Florence. His twin, Donald James, says he made his brother’s cognitive issues clear to the officers, who promised to drop him off at their apartment.

Family believes Douglas James may have spent weeks disoriented, riding buses across the city before he was found sleeping in a dental office nearly 30 miles from where he was last seen, attorney Mark Ravis said.

“His whole family was worried sick,” Ravis told KTLA. “They thought since so much time had gone by — frankly, they were bracing for the worst.”

When the missing man was found Thursday, he was arrested on a warrant. L.A. police Detective Oscar Casino, who investigated the missing persons case, asked Douglas James’ parole officer to issue the warrant after he disappeared.

Though the parole officer was aware there was a reason Douglas James hadn’t reported to him, he agreed to the warrant so any agency that found him would know he was missing, Casino said.

Because parole violations automatically carry a no-bail warrant, Douglas James couldn’t immediately be released from custody. Inmate records show he walked free around 6:40 p.m. Friday.

Casino declined to comment on what Douglas James’ criminal history included but said he was “incarcerated for a long period of time.”

The family remains upset with the California Highway Patrol officers who left the dementia patient in West Carson, blaming them for the whole ordeal.

“Once a police officer takes a person into custody, they’re responsible for his safety,” Ravis said. “That’s the law in California.”

CHP maintains it wasn’t aware of Douglas James’ medical condition, saying in a statement that he “communicated with the officers freely and logically and exhibited no indication he was unable to care for himself.”

Donald James says he emphasized that his brother wouldn’t know where to go if they didn’t take him home. When he got back to the apartment himself hours later and his brother wasn’t there, he immediately went out searching.

The family continued to canvass the city and check with coroner’s offices over the ensuing weeks, but they’d begun to fear the worst. “We’re calling this a Christmas miracle,” Ravis said.

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