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According to authorities, Khristian Joseph was last seen leaving Pleasant Grove Elementary School at 3:45 p.m. Monday.
Officials tell ABC11 that with the assistance of the Durham Police Department, Khristian was returned safely to his mother around 5:15 a.m. after he walked to a Sleep Inn in Durham - not far from the Morrisville school.
BREAKING: Cary police say missing 10-yr-old boy found SAFE. Located at a Durham motel 1-1/2 mile from his school. pic.twitter.com/YDTO0lMkas— John Clark ABC11 (@JohnClarkABC11) February 28, 2017
"He said he's been walking all night," Sleep Inn employee Zach Timmons said. "He had a cut on his face, but he'd been walking in the woods so it may have come from there."
"He walked up to me. I was making coffee at the time. He asked me to call somebody said he was ready to go home so I did," Timmons added. "I asked him if he wanted anything to eat. He said yeah, so he had some cereal."
Authorities said Khristian had left through a back door of his school on Pleasant Grove Church Road after classes ended.
"Appears to be a case of a kid deciding he was going for a walk," Police Operations Captain Kevin Tingen said Tuesday morning.
He said there was no indication why, but would classify the incident as a runaway case.
Capt. Tingen said the boy walked through the woods, was there until after dark, and then walked overnight to the hotel around 4 a.m. asking an employee to call police.
Officers brought Khristian back to the school to be reunited with his mom, who refused to leave until her son was found.
"You've never seen a parent that was happier than that. She was just ecstatic," Capt. Tingen said. "She never left the school. She was determined she would not leave here until he was found."
Cary Police had been conducting an active search as family members combed the area.
"To me it was just a huge relief just knowing we would able to get him back safely to her. It could have turned out very differently," Capt. Tingen added. "She's like come here and give me a hug. He fell right in her arms."
The Highway Patrol assisted with the search, using thermal-imaging cameras. Law officers also searched all area businesses, including fast food restaurants and convenience stores Monday.
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