Johnathan Croom's body was found 1,000 feet from his abandoned car, which was discovered by authorities last Wednesday. Officials suspect no foul play and believe the teen committed suicide.
Croom's father, David Croom, said that over the past six months his son had developed a growing interest in the movie based on Jon Krakauer's 1996 nonfiction book. He explained his son had been "watching the movie a lot" and that he believed the teen wanted to emulate the main character Chris McCandless' actions.
"Maybe he said, 'I want to do it,'" David Croom said after his son's body was found. "That's our theory, because he kept talking about the movie."
In the book, McCandless looks to cut all ties with society and moves to Alaska to live in the wilderness. In the end, he dies.
Johnathan Croom was last seen at a friend's home in Seattle, where he was visiting. His father was expecting him to return home to Arizona on August 17. The teen was going to drive back home through Oregon and Washington but stopped responding to his father's text last Wednesday.
Croom's Honda CRV was found on a desolated road in the country town of Riddle, Oregon on August 21, two days after he was due to start college at Mesa Community College.
"We still don't know what happened," his father said, "but he was lost in the wild. He got in over his head, and things didn't go well."
"John made us feel like he was OK, but he was really hurting inside," David Croom added, explaining that a recent breakup left his son with a broken heart.
"It's really important that we pay real close attention to what our kids are saying and that we remind them that we love them," Croom said, "because there are influences in the world that tell them otherwise."