Missing teen’s car found with body inside

Family friend locates Cole Burbank’s Honda in Chehalis; police end search

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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Cole Burbank, 16, was last seen in class at about 7:45 a.m. Thursday at Camas High School. (Camas Police Department)

The search for a missing Camas teen came to a sad end Friday evening when his car with the body of a young male was found inside in Chehalis.

Authorities have not yet identified the body, which was released to the Lewis County coroner for positive identification. However, Camas police officer Debra Riedl said that police have called off their search for 16-year-old Cole Burbank. The teen had been reported missing April 13.

A family friend who was among the volunteers searching for Burbank located his vehicle at about 5 p.m. in a shopping center parking lot, Riedl said.

Late Friday night, a message was posted on behalf of Burbank’s family on a Facebook group dedicated to finding him. The group, Cole Burbank Search Party – Volunteers Needed, had surpassed 4,600 members.

“Cole has been found and God has a new angel in his choir. We are incredibly thankful for the overwhelming support and prayers that all of the individuals in this community have shown during this difficult time. We are blessed by your prayers and find comfort in knowing so many of you cared for Cole.”

Just hours before the discovery, his parents, Michelle and Matt Burbank, held a brief press conference pleading for him to come home.

“Whatever situation you are in, we are ready for you to return and follow your heart with music,” Matt Burbank, 44, said from a prepared statement. “We are praying and trusting that God has you covered. We are willing to do whatever it takes to bring you home.”

Family and friends stood behind the teen’s parents in support as they read their message for their son and the community outside Grace Foursquare Church in Camas.

The last confirmed sighting of Burbank was at about 7:45 a.m. April 13, according to police. He left driving his black 2010 Honda Accord. After leaving the high school, it is likely he was in the vicinity of Clark College, where he attended Running Start classes, police said.

During the press conference, Matt Burbank told media that he misses hearing his son sing. The teen was in the choir at Camas High School, as well as a select vocal ensemble, his parents said.

“We have gotten so used to the gift of music that you have brought that it is almost unbearable to be without it. I want to hear the songs you haven’t recorded yet. I want to witness the success that you will have with your voice. Your music is beautiful. You will touch people around the world with the joy of your voice,” Burbank said.

Michelle Burbank, 40, thanked the community Friday afternoon for “all the love, donations, prayers and support.”

“We are completely in awe of the way the community has rallied, and the way people have supported us in the mission to find Cole,” she said.

Friday night, the Camas Police Department extended its thanks to the public for their concerns, volunteer search efforts and tips, and also to the agencies that assisted in the investigation, including the Chehalis and Vancouver police departments, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and FBI.