Updated: Mother of missing 4-year-old boy pleads for help
JEFFERSON CITY - As more than 100 people comb parts of Jefferson City looking for a missing 4-year-old, police are urging someone to come forward with information.
Jefferson City Police held a press conference Monday afternoon at city hall where Gray's mother pleaded with the community, asking anyone with information to come forward.
Lt. David Williams echoed the mother's statements, encouraging others to reach out if they had any information on Gray's whereabouts.
Williams was unable to give out information regarding specific places where authorities searched. Williams did say, however, that they have received calls as far away as Minneapolis and Chicago.
"We are not saying that he is missing and he is in Jefferson City," Williams said. "We are saying that he is missing and he could be anywhere."
Williams said in another conference Monday morning that anyone can be anonymous and still collect the $11,000 reward for information on Darnell's whereabouts. He said the department is getting a lot of calls, and Williams wants that to keep happening.
"The plea right now is for everyone, whether you think it's important or not, to contact us and let us know. Let us decide the information, whether it is relevant or not," he said.
Williams said Monday morning's briefing included 50 supervisors overseeing search crews from agencies including the FBI, multiple police departments, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, fire departments and emergency services.
He said many people in the JCPD are giving up days off to search for Darnell.
"Our goal is to find this 4-year-old," Williams said.
He said the FBI got involved because its agents have expertise the JCPD doesn't have.
Williams said the FBI's Jefferson City agents were "quick to tell us if we needed their help, we could count on it."
The JCPD is taking a second look at everything that's happened to this point, he said. Williams stopped short of calling it a criminal investigation, despite an earlier press release that mentioned "inconsistent statements.
"We're going back to the beginning and started looking at every conversation that we've had and what all the people involved in this and we're looking at exactly what they told us, what they told us the second time, and what they've told the media," Williams said.
For now, he said, it is considered a "search operation."
"Of course, there's always an investigation to it. We can't wait until tragedy before we start looking at an investigation," he said.
Williams said Darnell's family has been very cooperative and there's "no reason to believe they are not going to keep doing that." He also said neighbors have been helpful.
Some of those are among the dozens of volunteers that have been helping to search for Darnell. Williams said he just asks the volunteers to "stay out of the way of professional searchers."
Police officers have set up a command center set up in the parking lot of Vivion Baseball Field, right across the street from Washington Park Ice Arena.
The intersection of Laurel Drive and Linden Drive has been re-opened after authorities wrapped up their search efforts in that area.
Williams says searchers are increasingly worried about Darnell's condition as time goes one.
"We believe he is in danger," Williams said. "And although there's still an investigation going on, we still hope to find Darnell and be able to return him to his family."
While searchers scour the area, Williams said there is a chance Darnell may be with someone.
"We are still looking at it as he is out there. Hopefully someone has him and they know they can call us anonymously."
The FBI and City of Jefferson have established a $11,000 reward for any information leading to Darnell's location. Police have also created a direct line for tips on Darnell's whereabouts, which can be reached at (573)634-6391.