Man Arrested After Tech Billionaires' Missing Teen Child Was Found in His Van


After a nearly weeklong search, the missing teenage child of a pair of tech founders has been found — and the adult man they were with has been arrested.

In a press release, the Marin County Sherriff's Office announced that the 16-year-old Mint Butterfield — the offspring of Flickr cofounders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, and who goes by they/them pronouns — had been located safely in San Francisco.

The teen was found, and we're not making this up, inside a creepy white van with a man 10 years their senior. According to the sheriff's office, Butterfield had "voluntarily" run away with the man, who authorities described as an "adult friend" that has since been arrested.

Along with cofounding Flickr, the elder Butterfield also started Slack in 2013 and was the company's CEO until the end of 2022. While it appears that neither he nor Mint's mother gave public statements while the child was missing, the news of the tech heir's shocking disappearance garnered headlines due to their parents' status.

At-Risk Youth

As prior reports indicated, Butterfield went missing from the house they shared with their mother in the Napa Valley area, about 30 miles north of San Francisco, on or after the night of Sunday, April 21. The next morning, Fake reported them missing and told police they were concerned because the teen left a note.

Those previous reports also noted that the 16-year-old was considered "at risk" due to a history of mental illness and substance abuse, and may have been headed for San Francisco's notorious Tenderloin district, which is known to be an open-air drug market.

The 26-year-old man that Butterfield allegedly ran away with was, as the Marin County sheriff's press release notes, arrested and booked on "multiple criminal violations," specifics about which have not been revealed, after the teen was found with him in his van. In an interview with the San Francisco Standard, a spokesperson said detectives don't suspect abduction or foul play because it appears that Butterfield left with the man of their own will.

"I don’t think there was foul play related to kidnapping or anything else," Schermerhorn told the newspaper, "which is what some people were saying is what happened."

As terrifying as this tale is, it's undeniably a good thing that Butterfield was found alive and relatively well — especially considering the other big van disappearance story that made headlines in recent years.

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