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Laguna Niguel couple traces steps of missing teenage son

College student was driving home from Northern Calif.; his wrecked SUV was found near Castaic Lake

Posted: September 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
This photo provided by the Laspisa family shows Bryce, center, with his mother Karen and father Michael. This photo provided by the Laspisa family shows Bryce, center, with his mother Karen and father Michael.
This photo provided by the Laspisa family shows Bryce, center, with his mother Karen and father Michael.

A Laguna Niguel couple got some welcomed media attention Labor Day as they search for their missing son, Bryce Laspisa, who apparently crashed his 2003 Toyota Highlander SUV near the Castaic Lake Main Boat Ramp early Friday morning.

“We’ve had a media blitz today, so all we need now is the help from the detectives,” said Karen Laspisa Monday, as she and her husband Michael remain hopeful.

The case was turned over to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives Friday following a fruitless 10-hour search by the Santa Clarita Valley Search and Rescue Team.

On Monday, people responding to the couple’s Facebook requests helped search and post flyers, she said.
The couple has not heard from their 19-year-old son since shortly after 2 a.m. Friday when he told them he told them he was too tired to drive.

The young man’s girlfriend is expected to send Bryce’s “gym shoes and dirty socks” to volunteers waiting with scent-sniffing tracking dogs on Tuesday, Karen Laspisa said, adding, “These search dogs can track a scent after a year.”

The couple is scrutinizing a timeline of their son’s actions, including:

Aug. 26 - Bryce attends his speech class and web design class at Sierra College and has a “good normal conversation” with his mother, according to her. The family has a photo taken that afternoon of a “happy” Bryce posing with a Madden sports video game.

Aug. 27 - Bryce admits to his girlfriend he took at least one pill described as medication for attention deficit disorder, according to conversations relayed by the girlfriend to Bryce’s mother.

“He was acting strange and he admitted he took that pill,” she said quoting the girlfriend.

10 p.m. Wednesday - Bryce reportedly tries to break up with his girlfriend. Friends, concerned about his behavior, take away his car keys.

10:30 p.m. Wednesday - Karen Laspisa tells the friends, by phone, to return the keys to her son after she speaks to him. He tells her: “I have a lot to talk to you about.”

11:30 p.m. Wednesday - Bryce Laspisa leaves Chico, according to his girlfriend, Kim.

9 a.m. Thursday - Bryce runs out of gas near the Buttonwillow Rest Area, west of Bakersfield, according to his mother.

Noon Thursday - a roadside assistance serviceman named Christian delivers three gallons of gasoline to Bryce, according to a $20 credit card purchase for the fuel. “He’s not answering his phone (at this time),” his mother said.

12:30 p.m. Thursday - Karen Laspisa calls serviceman Christian and asks about her son. He tells her he appears “OK” but adds: “His eyes look a little red.” Bryce does not answer his cell phone.

9 p.m. Thursday - responding to a call from the mother, CHP officers stop and search Bryce’s car spotted on Lagoon Drive in Buttonwillow. “Something happened in the whole 10 hours he was around there,” she said.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday - Karen speaks to her son on the phone and asks: “What are you doing?” His response, she said, is: “I’m going to hang with friends later.”

11 p.m. Thursday - Bryce tells his mother he’s buying a beverage at a gas station. A purchase is made for $1.71, she said.

Shortly after midnight Thursday - “He tells me he’s on the I-5 south but he’s telling me nothing,” she said.
1:50 a.m. Friday - Bryce, by phone, tells her he “had detoured off I-5 but was back on the I-5.”

2:08 a.m. Friday - Karen Laspisa talks to her son for the last time. He tells her his GPS tells him he will arrive in Laguna Niguel in three hours and 25 minutes. “He told me ‘I got off the I-5 and I’m in a suburban area. I’m going to sleep in my car,’”

Between 2:08 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday - Bryce makes three trips to the crash site – the last trip ending with the crash, according to what his mother described as surveillance footage captured by cameras set up near Castaic Lake.

5:30 a.m. Friday - CHP officers locate his overturned SUV on a paved access road that leads to the Castaic Lake Main Boat ramp, at the bottom of a 15-foot ravine, on its side, with its rear window smashed. Although he left the valuables – laptop, cell phone and wallet – a duffle bag is found at the rear of the car and zipped open, prompting investigators to suspect he took something from it.

Anyone with information about Bryce should call Sgt. Roger Wallace of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Parks Bureau at 661-272-2594.
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