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Scent kits help locate missing people with autism

Experienced Autism Alliance giving away 100 kits
Scent Preservation Kit.png
Posted at 4:41 AM, Oct 22, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — The efforts of the non-profit organization Experienced Autism Alliance is doing what it can to help limit the time a person is missing. They are giving away 100 scent kits to people with autism on Saturday, October 23.

Devin Richard is one of the recipients.

Her 4-year-old son, Ashton was diagnosed with autism before his second birthday.

“He is diagnosed with level three. So, it’s more on the severe side," Richard said.

She and her fiance moved to the Tampa Bay area in the past year. In a new city, with no family around, she said the scent kit gives her an added sense of security in the event Ashton goes missing.

“I was like, wow, that’s amazing. That’s perfect. That’s exactly what we need and what every family needs out here," Richard said.

The scent evidence box was created by former FBI agent Paul Coley and his wife.

Inside the small cube, box holds a glass, lab-grade container with a cloth to swab the person.

“It actually has Ashton’s scent in here. You would wipe underneath the arms about ten times or so just to make sure we have that scent on there," Richard said.

The glass is then closed and sealed and only opened when a person goes missing. Once opened a K9 will have a scent to go off of in the search effort.

The box also contains a small pamphlet with personal information about the missing individual and what Richard said is the true lifesaver, a small USB drive.

“They actually have pre-prompted files on here to where all I had to do is just click into it and it prompted me and asked me the color of his eyes, his hair, what is his comforts, what does he do whenever he is stressed out. What makes him stressed out and things like that and these are definitely information that the police and everybody needs to know," Richard said.

In a span of two years, Coley said the kits have helped find 100 missing people in the state of Florida.

They are priced at $20 and can be found on Amazon.

The free kits will be given away from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at South Pointe Clubhouse, located at 10510 Souther Pointe Boulevard in Riverview.

For more information about the event contact Tanya Hines at