What really happened to American hiker “missing” in paradise?

$1.2 million evaporated on a flight from Switzerland to New York.

Edward Snowden is doing his best to disappear on a flight from Moscow to Ecuador.

And at Snowden’s destination, August Reiger just pulled off a vanishing act of his own.

The 18 year-old National Merit Scholar (lol) and high school valedictorian disappeared from an Ecuadorian bathroom a hiking trail in Banos, Ecuador, just minutes ahead of his family. I initially took interest in the case soon after Reiger disappeared because if you say “August Reiger” out loud, he basically shares my last name — days before Barack Obama followed suit and designated him a “missing patriot.” (I was a bit ahead of the curve, is what I’m saying.)

At first, the disappearance seemed like a complete mystery. The family and government officials offered no leads:

“Whatever happened to him was in the space of five or 10 minutes. We were right behind him,” his father says. “He couldn’t have gotten lost. The whole of the trail is visible from the hotel. You can see the way down. It’s a tourist area, and it’s not isolated at all. If he was hurt on the trail, somebody would have seen him.”

Police, firefighters, volunteers, and even the military have been searching for the teen; his father says authorities believe he either fell off a ledge or was kidnapped. [Editor’s note: authorities apparently have very limited imaginations. He could have also been eaten by a jaguar.]

But like any good game of Clue, the passage of time helps eliminate certain possibilities. For one thing, we know he didn’t fall off the cliff (or become dinner for a jaguar) because he was spotted Monday night in a truck headed for the Amazon — alive. For another, it seems unlikely he was kidnapped: the family has not been contacted by kidnappers, nor have they been asked for a ransom.

Of course, ruling out those options leave one other obvious alternative: that Reiger ran away. That possibility struck some who knew him as unlikely:

Close cousin to August Reiger, Laura Laporte, said their family is small and close.

“He’s sweet,” Laporte said. “People love him. He has big plans.”

She wants everyone to know the family believes Reiger disappearing on his own terms is out of the question.

“What we know in our hearts is that he’s not runaway,” Laporte said. “I have read that a couple of places that some people feel like he has done this intentionally. We know August and that’s just not something that could have been possible.”

Well add another notch to your Reiger counter: Paper Treiger is another place that suspects he did this intentionally. I arrived that conclusion through a combination of the process of elimination — not a cliff, not a jaguar, and not a kidnapping — and logical deduction. That logic kicked in when I came across one other quote intended to reassure the public that August did not run away — but which, in fact, accomplished precisely the opposite:

“He has got a full ride scholarship to OU [University of Oklahoma — I know it’s backwards, but at least it’s kosher]; he’s got a full life waiting for him in OKC.”

Did you just say Oklahoma City? Run, August. Run.

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