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Officials Search For Family Of Mystery Boy

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NEW YORK (AP) — July 29, 1996 - 4:05 a.m. EDTBy SARAH CHRISTIAN,Associated Press Writer

Jonathan Adams says ``no, ma'am'' or ``yes, sir'' when asked about his family. And the little boy abandoned in a Brooklyn toy store last spring points to North Carolina when shown a map.

But authorities have few clues besides his courtly Southern manners to help them find his mother, who vanished four months ago from the store.

Since then, police and children's services officials have been trying to find Jonathan's relatives. The boy, believed to be 4 or 5, was found wandering unattended in a Toys R Us store in Brooklyn on March 21.

On Sunday, he gave investigators a new lead.

``We showed him a globe today and a map. Twice on the globe and also on the map, he picked out North Carolina when we asked him where are we now,'' Lear said. ``This may not lead to much, but it may be very significant.''

No trace of his family has ever been found and no one ever reported the little boy missing, said Nicholas Scoppetta, commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services.

``There seems to be no indication, at least in New York, that someone is looking for him. It's astonishing,'' Scoppetta said.

On that day in March, store employees called police near closing time and the next day Jonathan was placed in a foster home where he has been ever since.

Abandoned children are not unusual in New York, Scoppetta said, but this case is.

Jonathan knows his numbers, his alphabet and his colors - he just doesn't know where he lives.

``It's sort of remarkable. He seems to be very well taken care of. He's obviously very bright,'' the commissioner said.

ACS spokeswoman Maggie Lear said that from the beginning of his ordeal, Jonathan has talked about a mother named Tameeka, a father Bernard, a brother Brenden and a sister Sheteria. He also talks about a grandmother, uncle and aunt who seem to have been important figures in his life.

``A lot of people have obviously loved this little boy,'' Lear said. ``A lot of people took care of him. Where are they? It's just a strange, strange case.''

Scoppetta said he believes Jonathan had divided his time between his mother, who he can describe in detail, and his aunt.

What the child can't say or doesn't remember is what investigators need to know most - an address, a phone number or even a city where he lived.

ACS workers suspect Jonathan is from the South because of his manners - answering questions with ``no, ma'am'' or ``yes, sir.''

In March, Jonathan said he is 4 years old, but he may have just turned 5. On Sunday, he told Lear his birthday was June 2, a fact he had not mentioned or could not remember before.

He also is starting to mix reality and fantasy, Scoppetta said, often telling stories that make it seem as if his mother is still with him.

``Sometimes he takes off on a story and makes it what, I think, he wishes were true,'' Scoppetta said.

However, he said, Jonathan never cries or complains about missing his mother - unusual for a child so young. But he has recently been throwing tantrums for no apparent reason, perhaps venting the stress of his situation.

Frustrated after months of trying to find his family, investigators are now circulating Jonathan's story through the media, hoping to find someone who knows him.

``What we're hoping is if we focus some attention on him, a neighbor, a relative, a parent, one of his friends will recognize him,'' Scoppetta said. ``He's a handsome little guy. Just a remarkable little smile and eyes. I'm sure anyone who knows him will recognize him.'

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