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“Into The Wild”: Did Film Inspire Dead Teen?

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A young college student whose body was found on Monday near his abandoned car has left a lot of unanswered questions for his family, as police are ruling his death as a suicide.

18-year old Jonathan Croom had, according to his family, developed an “obsession” with the film “Into The Wild”, which was based on the true story of Chris McCandless. McCandless left behind all his possessions and took only what he would need to survive into the Alaskan wilderness on a journey to find himself. Sadly, McCandless was found dead four months later, of starvation and possible poisoning from berry seeds.

Croom’s family says that when he went missing last week–right before he was supposed to go back to school at Mesa College in Arizona–they thought perhaps he’d decided to go on some sort of adventure. He’d been staying with a friend in Seattle and was supposed to drive back to school, which started last Monday. His car was found in rural Oregon on Wednesday; his body was discovered about 1,000 feet away on Monday, August 26.

“He’s been watching the movie a lot,” David Croom, Jonathan’s father, said last week. “Maybe he said, ‘I want to do it.’ That’s our theory, because he kept talking about the movie.”

Yet despite a few similarities to McCandless–Jonathan’s ID and phone were left in his car, for instance–his location was far from isolated and he had very little experience with camping. Police say that there is no evidence of foul play and have ruled his death a suicide, but his family says things don’t add up.

Authorities have not released information on how Croom died, but they do say that an investigation of text messages shows that he was talking to someone about running away.

“I think we have kind of a combination there,” said a Douglas County Sheriff spokesman. “He talked with his parents about `Into the Wild,’ and in text messages we’ve looked at, he does specifically talk about running away, kind of just running away from his life.”

Image: David Croom

“Into The Wild”: Did Film Inspire Dead Teen?
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