Missing camper mystery solved

Connecticut man left town without telling friends

A Connecticut man sought during an intensive search at Clinton State Park left a message on his parents’ answering machine Tuesday evening saying that he had left a weekend music festival and had arrived at another location.

Robert Jensen, 20, New Canaan, Conn., sounded fine, Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Doug Woods reported at a news conference Tuesday night. Jensen had left the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival without telling the friends he came with.

“It was a short, quick message,” Woods said.

Although authorities think they may know where Jensen is, they didn’t release the location because they were trying to confirm that information.

“We have authorities in another jurisdiction trying to help us out right now,” Woods said.

Earlier Tuesday, emergency workers used bloodhounds, boats and a helicopter to search the grounds at the state park, where the music festival had been held Thursday through Sunday. Jensen was last seen about 2 p.m. Monday, when he told friends he was going swimming, according to Woods. His friends reported him missing Monday evening, starting a search that continued until news of the phone message was received.

Volunteer search teams gather close to the Douglas County Emergency Management Mobile Command near the Clinton State Park beach area. Helicopters, dogs, sheriff's officers and dozens of volunteers were deployed Tuesday in a search for a 20-year-old Connecticut man who told friends at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival site that he was going swimming but never returned. Officials learned Tuesday night that Robert Jensen simply left the area without telling anyone.

Jensen’s parents left Connecticut and were at the state park Tuesday watching the search. They informed the sheriff’s office about 6 p.m. of the message left on their home phone. The search was stopped, Woods said.

Woods said searchers had remained optimistic that Jensen might turn up safe somewhere, and they had planned to send announcements to other music festivals in case he had simply left Wakarusa without telling anyone.

After learning about the phone message, Woods said it was possible Jensen was at another music festival somewhere in the United States.

During the search, officers had wrapped yellow tape around a small tent believed to be Jensen’s. The tent stood in the middle of a field at Campground No. 1, which was full of abandoned camp chairs, tarpaulins and piles of trash.

Woods said Jensen left some personal items in the tent, but he wouldn’t elaborate on what they were.

Sheriff's Lt. Doug Woods informs area media about the reappearance of a man thought missing after the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival. Woods said Tuesday evening that Robert Jensen, 20, of New Canaan, Conn., had left his parents a telephone message that he was no longer in Lawrence.

Photos of Jensen were distributed to local and area news media.

About 40 people took part in the search Tuesday, Woods said, including sheriff’s officers, Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks employees, volunteers from the festival and members of a local Community Emergency Response Team.

Bloodhounds from the Kansas Department of Corrections and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office searched the area between the tent and the nearby swimming beach, Woods said.

A Kansas Highway Patrol helicopter spent about three hours in the air early Tuesday afternoon, Woods said. Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used their boats to search along the shoreline. No dives were conducted.

Woods said he had no idea how much the search cost the various entities.