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Curl tells The Pitch that Fuksa was in the center for lunch on December 20. She adds that people say he's been sighted at McDonald's and in the checkout line at King Soopers grocery store.
"He hasn't lost any weight or anything like that," Curl says. "He's not showing signs of wear, so I would take it that he's not homeless." She says he was wearing a Carhartt jacket.
Thompson says he is coming around to the idea that Fuksa has put down roots in the area, noting that this is the third time people at the Salvation Army have claimed to have contact with him. He asked Cheyenne police to drop by the Salvation Army and a shelter a couple of days later, but Fuksa wasn't there.
"When I got that [receipt], quite honestly, is when I finally started to finally accept that maybe they are seeing him there," he says.
But Fuksa has no known ties to Cheyenne, didn't drive directly there, and had refrained from identifying himself until this receipt surfaced. Why would someone in hiding put a close variation of his own name to paper? And if he still didn't want to be found, why would he stay in one place for almost a year?
"I was a little surprised, assuming that it is him, that he's stayed put out there," Thompson says. "I really kind of figured that when he took off, he went further away than that. Maybe he didn't."
Lacking evidence that Fuksa is living in the wilderness, and with good leads in Cheyenne, Fuksa's flight now seems less about leaving behind the modern world than the simple fear of a jail sentence. But if Fuksa is, in fact, dining at the Salvation Army, bargain shopping at the supermarket and ordering up Big Macs like any other Cheyenne resident, his disappearance is no less mysterious. Why didn't he ask for help after his arrest? Why Wyoming? Why did he leave the Explorer?
The new sightings have thrust Fuksa into an awkward dance with those looking for him. Thompson and Fuksa's parents want him to keep coming into the community center to ensure that he is alive and in good health, but they don't want him to sense a trap and stop making appearances. Starla says they will return to the area to look for him this year. Until then, she and her husband must hope that their son stays in the area — and that the man Curl claims to have seen really is Fuksa.
"When we first got fliers, I ran copies and put copies on every door and put them on tables and in the lunch-line window," Curl says. "And that may have been a mistake because he disappeared after that for quite a while."
It's a fear that Starla shares. "We're afraid that if he sees it, then he'll think that the trouble is worse than what he thought and he'll run again," she says.
Starla and Todd, who have relocated to Amarillo, Texas, for Todd's job with ConocoPhillips, have friends and colleagues in the Cheyenne area who continue to scour the region's homeless enclaves. Todd occasionally works in Cheyenne and drives the streets at night hoping that his son materializes out of the shadows or emerges from the lobby of a low-rent hotel.