“We can confirm law enforcement officials are in contact and Mr. Bell is safe,” the Daytona Beach Police Department wrote via their official Facebook account hours after declaring the 36-year-old Nickelodeon alum missing.
Earlier on Thursday, the DBPD issued a statement searching for the whereabouts of the Drake & Josh alum, whose “last known location is potentially the area of Mainland High School on 4/12/2023 just before 9 p.m,” read a post on the law enforcement’s official Facebook page. Bell, who was “considered missing and endangered,” was advised to be “traveling in a 2022 grey BMW” at the time.
Despite a successful career on Nickelodeon in the early 2000s, thanks to star turns on The Amanda Show and his titular hit, Drake & Josh (alongside costar Josh Peck), it is Bell’s worrisome behavior off screen that has made headlines in recent years.
In July 2021, the “Found a Way” musician was sentenced to two years probation — and 200 hours of community service — after he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted endangering children and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles in 2017.
“I just want to say today that I accept this claim because my conduct was wrong,” Bell said during his sentencing. “I’m sorry that the victim was harmed in any way, but that was obviously not my intention. I take this matter very seriously, and again I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”
That same month, the actor welcomed a baby boy with then-wife Janet Von Schmeling. The two wed in 2018 and reportedly split in January. (Von Schmeling shared and then deleted an Instagram post about their “separation” in November 2022.)
While still on probation, Bell again made headlines in December 2022 when Us Weekly broke the news that he was spotted appearing to huff balloons.
“Drake pulled up in the driveway at his house [in Los Angeles] and started to inflate a pink balloon that was in his lap. He inhaled it … [until] the balloon was deflated,” an eyewitness exclusively told Us at the time. The Yours, Mine & Ours star repeated this action “six or seven times” over the course of 30 minutes, the bystander claimed. “Eventually he got out and went into his house, then he came back out and got his kid out of the rear child seat and carried him in.”
The next day, the eyewitness observed Bell inhaling an inflated blue balloon in his car.
“At one point, it looked like he was about to fall asleep. His head started to drop and his eyes slowly closed,” the observer stated. “But eventually he got himself together and drove off. The kid was clearly in the car.”
American Addiction Centers’ chief medical officer Dr. Lawrence Weinstein exclusively told Us at the time that balloons “can … be a vessel” for inhalants, such as nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas). “Based on data … there was an increase of more than 11 percent in the number of people who have misused an inhalant in the past year,” the doctor told Us, noting that inhalant abuse can cause cognitive impairment, heart failure, sudden death and more. “[It] is very dangerous,” he emphasized.
In addition to the struggles in his personal life, Bell feuded with Peck, 36, who called his former costar’s child endangerment case “upsetting” and “disappointing” in a statement to Variety at the time.
After Bell publicly slammed Peck in 2017 for not inviting him to his wedding to Paige O’Brien, the How I Met Your Father actor discussed the incident on a March 2022 episode of the “BFFs” podcast.
“I am getting married that night and I see these text messages from him like cursing me out and coming for me. On the night of my wedding,” the Wackness star recalled, explaining that he made Bell apologize to his wife at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. “It’s delusional because it is like, ‘Bro, it is like we worked at Coffee Bean together when we were 16. I am sorry that I am 31 now and I might have lost your number.’” Peck added that the duo’s “dirty little secret” was that they were no longer close after filming the show — but he didn’t want fans to know that.
“I was happy to just die with that secret that we made this thing that people really loved but we weren’t that close,” he said at the time.
Bell, for his part, disagreed with his former costar’s version of events.
“What bugged me about it was that he’s like, ‘Oh, we weren’t friends,’” the musician said later that month on his own podcast with *Von Schmeling, “Drake & Janet,” saying the two had in fact been in touch over the years. “We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had times when we wanted to kill each other. We were like brothers. I know Josh and I’m closer to Josh than I am to own brothers.”
If you or anyone you know is facing substance abuse issues, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information 24/7.