GSE Administrator's Missing Teenager Comes Home

After the Harvard community mobilized to search for Elliot M. Layton, the missing 16-year-old son of a Graduate School of Education administrator, the teenager returned home safely late Wednesday night.

Layton’s parents became alarmed after he left home on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, the GSE—where the teen’s mother Daphne Layton is a senior associate dean—sprung into action to spread word of Elliot Layton’s disappearance via phone calls, posters, and social media efforts.

Undergraduates joined the effort as well, particularly by forwarding a description of Layton over House and student organization email lists. The email message and posters told students to keep their eyes peeled for a six-foot-three-inch teenager riding a black bicycle and carrying a green sleeping bag and a violin in a black half-moon case.

Since Daphne Layton described her son as a nature lover who might be drawn to “wooded areas,” volunteers scoured local forests and trails in hopes of finding Layton. Community members also checked for him at the Occupy Boston and Occupy Harvard campsites.

Before Layton returned home on his own some time after 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, over one hundred faculty, staff, and students at the GSE had picked up flyers with Layton’s photograph on them to distribute in the community.

“We wanted to support one of our colleagues,” said GSE Dean for Administration Jack Jennings. “Daphne is certainly very popular and when the word got out, people certainly wanted to help in any way they could.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Daphne Layton’s voice cracked as she described the efforts of the Harvard community as “overwhelming.”

“My colleagues at Harvard have really been amazing,” she said. “I can’t even put into words how grateful we are.”

She said that her son left home in the early hours of Tuesday morning, before she and her husband were awake.

“There was no fight, there was no indication, there was no event [that prompted him to leave],” she said. “I just think he was starting to feel the walls closing in.”

When her son returned on Wednesday night, Layton said she shed “tears of happiness.”

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at jzauzmer@college.harvard.edu.

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