Search for missing 4-year-old shifts to river

Search for missing 4-year-old shifts to river
Sheriff: Family confirms the shirts found belong to Caleb
Arkansas Online Press Services
27 March 2012

Gavin Lesnick Crews search the water Tuesday night near where two shirts belonging to a missing 4-year-old were found earlier in the day.

Crews looking for a 4-year-old boy missing since Saturday in a rural campground in Fulton County are concentrating all efforts on part of the South Fork of the Spring River where two of his shirts were recovered.

Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley said the two shirts were found near where a cadaver-sniffing dog alerted searchers earlier Tuesday, a spot along the river about 400 yards east from the area Caleb Linn was last seen.

Foley said finding the shirts in the water was distressing, though he still considered the effort a rescue.

"He might have gotten out," Foley said Tuesday evening, about an hour before the divers were planning to cease searching for the night. "I'm not going to call it a recovery."

Still, the developments prompted Foley to call off ground searches of the surrounding wilderness and pastors were brought in to share the news of the shirt find with family, who verified the items were what Caleb had been wearing.

"They took that really, really hard," Foley said. "But they're still holding out."

Hundreds of volunteers had been combing the 900-acre Kia Kima Scout Reservation in northeastern Arkansas before the ground search was called off.

Teams in boats returned from searching the river shortly before 8 p.m. The search is expected to pick up again after daylight Wednesday.

6:12 p.m. update:

Crews searching an area for a 4-year-old boy missing since Saturday discovered two shirts Tuesday afternoon in a spot that cadaver dogs were investigating earlier in the day, according to reports.

At a 6 p.m. press conference, Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley said three family members confirmed that Caleb had been wearing the two shirts at the time of his disappearance.

Foley said Tuesday that crews ended their ground search Tuesday evening and are now focusing their efforts on the South Fork of the Spring River. Foley said he still considers the search for Caleb a "search and rescue" mission, according to the Associated Press.

The search for Caleb entered its third full day with volunteers, law enforcement officers and family members fanning out to continue searching the woods and waterways of the 900-acre Kia Kima Scout Reservation in northeastern Arkansas.

One cadaver dog purportedly picked up Caleb's scent Tuesday morning about a quarter-mile from where he was last seen. Another dog didn't, however. Crews found a child's shirt 300 yards downstream from a Spring River bridge where Caleb's aunt last saw him; however, Fulton County officials confirmed that the shirt did not belong to Caleb.

There were reports that Caleb's aunt has told differing versions of her story and that she will be questioned more.

Authorities said Caleb could have wandered off or fallen into the swollen tributary near a bridge where he and several other kids were helping an aunt clear debris left by a recent batch of storms that battered the region.

The kids weren’t there as Scouts but to help clear the way for Scouts who spend summers there.

Five of the children, who are related, headed up to the main campsite where they were staying as the aunt watched the grounds while a caretaker was away, Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley said.

The kids were about 300 yards away when Caleb decided he wanted to join them. His aunt, Rhonda Wright, told him to follow the dirt road and head back to the cabin, Foley said. Then, she went back to clearing debris.

Investigators don’t suspect foul play.

Caleb’s mother and stepfather, who live 150 miles west of Hardy in Springdale, were at the camp Monday. A couple at a cabin with a stroller and overturned tricycle out front said they were Caleb’s parents but that they didn’t want to talk.

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