Local News

Dive crews focus on pond as search for Scotland County boy enters third day

Posted January 25, 2018 1:31 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:56 a.m. EDT

— The search for a missing 4-year-old Scotland County boy entered its second day on Thursday afternoon, but the sheriff said the search is still in the beginning stages.

Raul Johnson, who was last seen Wednesday morning, is described as being Hispanic, 3 feet tall and weighing 38 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. The child was last seen wearing his pajamas, which were described as a white-and-orange striped shirt with tigers on it and white pants with rocket ships on them.

Authorities said Raul's grandfather was watching him at about 11 a.m. Wednesday when he lost track of the boy. When the grandfather couldn't find Raul after about 20 minutes, he contacted police, and an Amber Alert was issued.

Raul's mother, Annie Johnson, said the boy’s grandfather was cooking in the kitchen when he lost track of the child.

"I just couldn't believe it when he called me. I wished I would have stayed home yesterday," she said Thursday. "He came to me yesterday morning and said, 'Please don't go to work.' And I told him I had to go to work."

The boy, who authorities said was barefoot, was last seen by Shirley Stubbs, who lives nearby. He was walking on Village Drive in the direction of Crestline Road in Laurinburg.

Johnson said Raul would often walk to a neighbor’s house for cookies and candy, but he never went alone.

Stubbs said the child was alone when he got to her door Wednesday morning.

"I said, 'Baby, what do you want?' He still wouldn't say nothing, so I said, 'If you're not going to say what you want, go back home to your papa,'" Stubbs said.

A dive crew on Thursday was searching a pond near where Raul was last seen after police dogs tracked the boy's scent there.

"The most reliable information we have had is the information that has been given to us by our K9s," said Sherriff Ralph Kersey.

Kersey said three separate K9 teams followed the same path from the home to the pond.

“We’ve got trained people out there, they’ve come from all over North and South Carolina, and hopefully this will be over soon,” Kersey said.

Search teams and equipment from several communities, including Charlotte and Florence, S.C., were assisting in the search efforts. About 100 volunteers were going to assist in a planned search on Thursday evening.

At this point, Kersey said, nothing has come up that would indicate foul play.

"There is nothing that we have found in the interviews we have done with the family members, with the neighbors, with the information that has been provided from the public that would indicate that we are dealing with foul play," he said.

Kersey said Raul's parents were arrested in October on child abuse charges and that his father remains in jail on seven counts of child molestation.

Anybody with information is asked to call the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-276-3385.