Police: 3-year-old was never missing
Posted May 20, 2008 11:00 a.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2008 8:43 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — Unanswered questions surround the Amber Alert case of a 3-year-old, including the child's name and whereabouts, after authorities said Tuesday that the child never disappeared from a Smithfield flea market.
"It did not occur here, and it wasn't as it was originally reported," Chief Steve Gillikin said at a news conference. "So, the child was never in any danger whatsoever."
The boy, reportedly named Siraj Munir "Roji" Davenport, was safe with family members Tuesday morning, Gillikin said, although he said he was not sure with whom.
Nor did he say where, but a close friend of the boy's family told WRAL he was overseas.
"The child was never at the flea market. We know that for a fact," Gillikin added. "The child was never here in Smithfield during the incident."
The chief declined to elaborate further about the case, saying only that the joint investigation with the FBI is ongoing. The FBI, also, would not comment.
It is still unclear whether charges will be filed against the woman identified as the boy's mother, Rosnah Thomason. Gillikin said that would likely be determined at the conclusion of the investigation.
"We're still talking with her. She's still being interviewed, and she still has information we would like to get," he said.
But those who know Thomason said they there is more to her story, although they would not elaborate.
"We don't believe it was a hoax," Keayona Hawkins said. "We don't believe she would lie about something like that – that she definitely would not neglect her son in any way."
State authorities issued the Amber Alert on Sunday after Thomason reported the boy missing from Brightleaf Flea Market. She said she had been putting produce in her car when she looked up and he was gone.
The Amber Alert was canceled at 12:27 a.m. Tuesday after the boy was found. Gillikin said it was not until midnight that investigators started to realize the case was not as it seemed.
The 911 call, released Monday evening, he said, was the only part of the story investigators have been able to determine happened in Smithfield.
Authorities are also questioning the child's exact name and who his biological parents are.
"There's people involved in this – we don't know, at this particular point, what the relationships are," Gillikin said. "There is a father somewhere. There is a mother somewhere, and that's going to be part of the ongoing investigation.
Local, state and federal investigators searched Sunday and Monday by air, ground and water for the child, and FBI investigators spent most of Monday interviewing Thomason. It was unclear what federal issue brought the FBI into a local missing-child case, and police would not comment.
The Four Oaks community held a candlelight vigil for the child Monday night.
Gillikin called the case frustrating, saying manpower and money that could have been used elsewhere were spent searching for the child.
"And unfortunately, in situations like this, it makes the next one that comes along that much more difficult," he said.
"I think it desensitizes the public to these situations (so) that when they see these in the future there's more of an inclination not to pay that much attention to it," he added. "So, it hurts all around."