CANADIAN, TX (KFDA) - Hemphill County authorities have uncovered new evidence in the case of Thomas Brown, the 18-year-old Canadian High School senior who went missing more than 2 months ago.
"The backpack was actually located this weekend by somebody that called us in on a tip said they had seen something that looked like a bag," said Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis. "We went out there, checked it out, and sure enough the bag did belong to Thomas Brown."
The backpack was found nearly 4 miles from the spot search dogs lost trace of him during their initial searches in November.
Lewis does not believe the backpack had been tampered with or placed there recently.
"[There was] an indention in the ground where the bag was, so you can tell it's definitely been sitting there for three months as this has been going on," said Lewis. "The bag was damp, wet and dirty from being out in the weather."
One set of indistinguishable footprints also led up to the backpack.
Inside were his school books and a school issued laptop.
The laptop has since been sent to a Department of Public Safety crime lab in Lubbock, according to Lewis.
"This is a great sign," he said. "Anything that we can use to help us locate Mr. Brown - this is great, this is great news. So hopefully once we get the computer back it's going to show what we need to see, maybe something he's been doing and something that's going to give us a good lead and something to chase."
Aerial and ground searches this weekend did not find any evidence other than the backpack.
There is still no sign of brown's phone or wallet, or use of either object.
Lewis said he expects information from the laptop to be released to them next week.
Brown disappeared on Nov. 23, leading to the case's first aerial and ground searches. On Jan. 4, the Hemphill County Sheriff's Office told NewsChannel 10 that Brown leaving on his own was a possibility, but have since said that is less likely since none of his electronics or credit cards have been used.
Brown's car was found a day after his disappearance near the municipal water treatment facility with no signs of foul play.
He is described as a white male, with brown hair and brown eyes, about 6' 1," and 180-190 pounds.
A $12,500 reward for information leading to his return is currently being offered.