The two boys were huddled beneath two blankets, sleeping in a parking strip.
Bob Casey saw them about 8:40 a.m. when he stepped out of his house in the 1200 block of North Tacoma Avenue.
“I knew immediately what it was because I had just read the paper,” he said.
Casey called police to tell them where to find Zabian Welcome, 9, and Jeffrey Zupan, 11. Then he approached the runaways, who left Zabian’s home Wednesday night after a confrontation with a caregiver.
He said the boys were clad only in shorts and shoes. One had severe blisters on his feet. They were also covered with blue marker, like they’d engaged in “marker wars” while on the run.
Zabian appeared to be sleepy and just wanted to lay down, Casey said, but Jeffrey seemed antsy, like he might bolt.
Casey offered to bring them bowls of cereal if they would sit on his house steps, but they declined.
The boys were taken to the Tacoma police station, where they will be interviewed by detectives.