Officials, Family Confirm Illinois Boy Not Buddy Myers
Posted May 2, 2003 4:11 a.m. EDT
CLINTON, N.C. — A story first reported by WRAL that quickly made national headlines took a heartbreaking turn for the family of Buddy Myers on Friday.
FBI officials in Chicago, the Sampson County Sheriff's Office and the Myers family in Clinton, N.C., confirmed that a boy living in foster care in Illinois is not Buddy.
Officials said DNA testing proved that Eli Quick was not the boy the Myers family has been looking for for nearly three years.
"The Sampson County Sheriff's Office, in its ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Tristen 'Buddy' Myers, has received the DNA results," said sheriff Jimmy Thornton. "The DNA results have determined that Eli Quick is not Buddy Myers.
"I would like to thank the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau Investigation for their efforts in helping to determine the identity of Eli Quick. My heart is saddened for the family members of Tristan 'Buddy' Myers.
Joint press conferences were held in Chicago and Clinton to make the announcement, which ended nearly a week of agonizing waiting to find out if the boy was Buddy.
"I wish I were here to give you and, more importantly, the family of Tristen Myers some good news," FBI special agent Thomas Kneir said in Chicago. "Unfortunately, that is not the case. The two children are not identical."
A spokesperson for the Myers family, Jackie Jacobs, was near tears earlier in the day after meeting with an FBI official at the Myers' Roseboro, N.C., home. That gave an indication the news was not good for the family.
"I want the family to know that my office, along with assisting agencies, will continue to investigate any and all leads that have been generated as a result of this case," Thornton said. "I would also like to say 'thank you' for all the leads generated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"Also, to that caseworker in Illinois who is employed with the Children and Family Services Agency; she was the first that seemed to see a connection to Buddy. "
WRAL first broke the news Monday that Buddy may have been located for the first time since he wandered away from his great aunt's home in October 2000.
"We have a void in our life, and we're still trying to fill it," Buddy's cousin, Sherry Hicks, said at the press conference in Clinton. "We hope that now that (Buddy's story is known) nationwide, someone will recognize him and call the Sampson County Sheriff's Office or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"Even if there's a slight indication that you recognize this child, let someone know. We love you, Buddy. Come home soon."
The investigation into the boy's identity began when he was placed in foster care after Ricky Quick, who has said he is the father, tried to leave an Evanston, Ill., hospital without him. State child welfare officials said the boy was filthy and wearing dirty clothes.
A social worker in Chicago looked for clues to the boy's identity and noticed striking similarities between Eli and Buddy's description as given by a missing children's agency.
Ricky Quick has insisted that Eli was not Buddy. But authorities said he did nothing to try to reclaim the boy or to help with the investigation.
Buddy Myers has not been seen since he and his great aunt, Donna Myers, nodded off while watching a videotape on Oct. 5, 2000, at the rural home they shared in Roseboro, about 60 miles south of Raleigh.
When she awoke, Donna Myers discovered Buddy and two of the family dogs were gone. The dogs returned home after a number of days. But Buddy, then 4 years old, was never found in spite of repeated searches.
Investigators retrieved DNA samples from the child and from Raven Myers, who gave birth to her son in Mississippi when she was 15 years old.
According to Arlaine Rockey, Raven Myers' attorney, SBI special agent John Crawford notified Raven Myers of the DNA results at approximately 12:15 p.m. Friday. Rockey said the news was "devastating" to Raven.
"She is deeply saddened that her son will not yet be coming home," Rockey said.
Raven's parents, Buddy's grandparents, became legal guardians. Raven's father surrendered the boy to his brother and sister-in-law, John and Donna Myers, when his wife became terminally ill. He had been in their care four months when he disappeared.