Missing 17-Year-Old's Dad Searches for Him Daily and Keeps Up His Bedroom: 'He's Desperately Wanted'

Nathaniel Holmes, 17, was last seen in December after going to school at Hidden Lake High School in Westminster, Colorado

Nathaniel Holmes
Photo: Courtesy Ben Holmes

Seventeen-year-old Nathaniel Holmes is gone — missing since December, when he disappeared from school — but he is far from forgotten.

The boy’s father, Ben Holmes, spends two hours a day searching around and outside Arvada, Colorado — about 50 miles north and 80 miles south.

Ben, 55, estimates he’s put 20,000 miles on the various Jeeps he uses, rotating through them so that he won’t be recognized by anyone who would wish him or his family harm.

“I go to the worst areas of town looking, but there are just no clues,” Ben tells PEOPLE. “There’s not a well-defined bread trail. It’s a complete mystery.”

He checks homeless centers, puts up flyers and asks every police officer he sees to help find Nathaniel.

“I’m just always seeking,” Ben says. “He could be anywhere.”

Nathaniel was last seen on Dec. 19, after his mother drove him that morning to Hidden Lake High School in nearby Westminster. He had recently transferred as a junior after falling behind in the online classes he was taking.

He never made it to second period.

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Westminster police investigator Cheri Spottke says they believe Nathaniel is a runaway, noting authorities have “nothing that indicates that he was taken or he was kidnapped.”

But Nathaniel’s father says his vanishing is completely out of character. Far from running away, the teen did not ever even spend the night at other people’s houses.

“That’s why his going missing is so troubling,” Ben says. “Nathaniel has fallen completely off of the planet.”

A Happy Home Upended

Nathaniel’s parents divorced when he was 8 and his dad got full custody of him, his older sister and his younger brother. Ben calls it “the best of the deal.”

“They were great kids,” he says. “We’re a very close family. And again, that’s what’s so troubling.”

Ben and his children traveled extensively — to Canada, Mexico, Scotland. They’ve scuba dived off the Virgin Islands and gone on a nearly month-long safari in Africa.

“We would just go to see the world,” Ben says.

Like his father and his grandfather before him, Nathaniel played the bag pipes and was “quite talented” — even “surprisingly so” — according to Ben, who teaches and plays professionally.

Nathaniel also like airplanes, playing World of Warcraft and hunting. At the time of his disappearance, he had just bagged his first deer. And on his bedroom wall are the horns of an impala his dad shot.

The day before Nathaniel went missing was unusual in one way, Ben says.

“He had gotten into a little bit of trouble at this new school. I don’t know if he had fallen in with a bad crowd. He came home and obviously he had taken something,” Ben says. “And I had to work that night so I wanted him supervised. So I let him stay with his mother.”

The next morning, on the way to school, Nathaniel stopped by his home to pick up a folder he needed for class.

“I said, ‘We are going to have to discuss this when you get home tonight,’ ” Ben says. “And that was the last I saw him.”

Nathaniel left his iPad behind in his bedroom. His father has tried so many times to guess the password that it’s locked him out.

“I’ve looked at every possible thing that I can find,” Ben says. “I’ve come up with nothing.”

Still, he searches and waits. There’s now a $10,000 reward for information that leads to Nathaniel, who is “loved and wanted back,” his dad says.

His room is the same as he left it.

“I don’t know if he ran across a group of people that did something with him or if he left on his own volition. I don’t know,” Ben says. “It’s totally troubling because he’s a good kid. He’s just missing. And there’s no trace.”

Anyone with information on Nathaniel’s whereabouts is urged to call Westminster police at 303-658-4360.

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