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Jun 22, 2005

Still no progress in search for missing child

Story PictureThree days after he disappeared from a ranch north of Ladyville, there is still no sign of four year old Rudy Lopez. It’s a strange case with no shortage of theories. But while police, family, and friends try to sort through a tangled mess of often conflicting clues, one thing remains certain: an innocent child remains in grave danger… and time is not on his side. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has the latest from Trinidad Farm.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
On Tuesday, Ladyville police detained the child?s father, Santos Lopez, and a farm worker, Jesus Aguirre, in connection with the disappearance of four-year-old Rudy Misael Lopez. The men have not been charged in connection with the incident, but authorities say since they have been investigating the case, family members have been giving different accounts of what transpired on Sunday, when Rudy went missing. The farm?s owner, Fred Hunter Senior, says he has known the family for a decade and does not believe they are involved.

Fred Hunter, Sr., Farm Owner
?I offered to stand bail to let him out, but they say they cannot let him out because they have not charged him. To me that is a bunch of nonsense. You had the man, you interrogate him, I am prepared to pay the bail, bring him to the farm. If you want to see him again you come to the farm and speak to him. I am standing bail, the man have nothing to run from. If you could see the way the man has been distraught, all the man is doing is crying like the mother because they lost their little child.?

The Lopez?s seven children help their parents and other farm workers round up the cattle in the evenings and it is possible that on that day the child followed one of the animals and got lost. Hunter suspects the little boy may have wandered off the thirteen hundred acre property and got lost in the surrounding forest. Hunter also believes that Rudy could have been taken by somebody who had a grievance with the child?s father.

Fred Hunter Sr.
?Could be that somebody who was working on the other side where Santos is in charge of the workers and maybe he fired somebody, maybe had to fire a couple of them who were not working very good and maybe for revenge or something, decided to steal the child and maybe try to sell the child because it has to be somebody who knows the place, who knows the dogs, who everybody knows. Because look at the farm, clean, clean, clean, all around, clean, clean, clean. So what I believe is that the little boy wandered off and somebody find him.?

On Tuesday, Rosalina Lopez made a tearful appeal to the person she claims called a farm worker on Monday night and only said that he had the child and he was alive. That report is being investigated by police who strongly suspect the family may know what happened to their son. Authorities say the investigation has been frustrating because of the conflicting reports. However, Hunter believes the problem has to do more with a language barrier that has caused statements to be misinterpreted. Authorities say, based on information they have been receiving, they are treating the case as a possible kidnapping. The Lopez family believes the police have wasted crucial time focusing their investigation on them instead of looking for their son.
Rosalina Lopez, Mother of Missing Boy
?The police never did help us look for him. They just treat us bad and rough and interrogate us. We are just unhappy about it. We do not believe the farm worker is involved with our son?s disappearance because he has been looking for him from day one. Since Sunday we cannot sleep, eat, we are very tired and maybe we were not consistent about what we know happened and that is why the police do not believe us and that is why they detained my husband. We have nothing to do with my son?s disappearance and we do not know anything.?

Little Rudy was only wearing a long blue pants when he disappeared. He weighs between forty and fifty pounds and has a scar on the right side of his forehead. Since reported missing, there have been no sightings of the child. On Tuesday, however, three children living in the vicinity said they may have been last ones to see the boy.

Fred Hunter Sr.
?We got a report yesterday from three little boys who live out in the housing scheme out there that they saw a little boy walking into the bush Sunday afternoon.?

Rudy is reported to have gone missing sometime after he played ball with his brothers in the front yard. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

Ladyville police have since released Santos Lopez. Still detained is farm worker Jesus Aguirre, the person who allegedly received the phone call from a man claiming to have the child. The Lopez family does not believe that Aguirre, who has been working on the farm for three years, is involved.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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