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Feb 22, 2005

4 year old missing. Did anyone care?

Story PictureNot a week goes by that we do not receive a notice from the Police Department concerning a missing person. Usually the subject in question is a teenaged girl, either fed up with an abusive home or infatuated with Mr. Right. But sometimes the report does not fit the familiar pattern and that’s the disturbing story that is unfolding tonight. It’s a drama in which–as News 5′s Jacqueline Woods discovered–no one is innocent.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
It is more than twenty-four hours since four year old Oscar Velasquez went missing from his neighbourhood in the Antelope Street Extension Area. According to the boy?s mother, twenty-two year old Maria Sanchez her son stayed home from Church of Christ pre-school yesterday because he had a fever and cold. Sanchez claims she left Oscar with a neighbour and went to work in Ladyville. Sometime in the afternoon she was informed that her son could not be found.

Maria Sanchez, Mother of Missing Boy
?Well I went to work yesterday and when I reached they called me on my phone and asked if I had taken him with me to work and I said no. So now the boy who he was with told me not to worry and they will look for him because he must be around the neighbours them. So I never worry. I was worried but not that much. Then I called back and when I reached here they told me that my son still did not show up yet and then I started to look all around the areas and when his father came he called the police to tell them what happened.?

?I don?t know where he could be. I just hope somebody who finds him would bring him because it?s from whole of last night and they could have at least gone already to the police station or gone take him there and something.?

Sanchez is a single mother who lives in this one room plywood structure along with four year old Oscar, a three year old daughter and six year old son. Because the building is surrounded by high grass and swamp, Sanchez says they have also been searching the murky water but she does not believe that her son would have fallen in. She says they have also received a report that her son was last seen walking away from the area with a woman described only as slim built and carrying a bucket.

Maria Sanchez
?I think that somebody must have him but I don?t know who and whosoever have him, if they could please bring him back to me or take him to the station; that?s all.?

But as family and friends hope for the best, disturbing reports reaching News 5 suggest that the boy was neglected and abandoned and on Monday afternoon was not left in the specific care of anyone. Area residents tell News 5 that Sanchez frequently left her children unsupervised.

Jorge Velasquez, Father of Missing Boy
?When I got the message I left work right away and I came here and I asked her what happened, she said she does not know where the baby is. I asked her if she had called the police and she said no and then I called the police. Then she wants to know why I called the police. I need to call the police right away because he is my son.?

Today the boys? father twenty-four year old Jorge Velasquez who lives apart from Sanchez is troubled about what he heard took place.

Jorge Velasquez
?She left the kids there with someone to watch them, but they just watched them but not in charge of them, you know, that they are responsible for the kids. So that?s a problem. She suppose to take them with her or just left them with someone in charge of the kids and that?s the real problem. So you can?t blame anyone. But she is the one who suppose to know where the kids suppose to be and in charge of my son.?

According to Velasquez, the problem started in 2003 when Social Services removed his children from Sanchez?s care after they were left alone and locked in the house. The Ministry of Human Development confirmed that the family court granted the father custody of his children and police charged the mother with neglect and abandonment. Her three month sentence was suspended but she was ordered to undergo three months of parenting and counselling skills. It was during this time that Velasquez apparently had a family emergency in Guatemala and had to return home, deciding to place the children back in their mother?s care. The situation at Sanchez?s home apparently improved and last year the case was closed. Today Velasquez says he hopes to find his son alive and well.

Jorge Velasquez
?I don?t really know what to say because I don?t know where he is but I just hope that he is fine with someone. But some people say they saw him with a lady or a girl the last time by the water pipe. But I don?t know if she kept him, but I don?t know what to say. I just have to keep trying to see if I could find him.?

Four-year-old Oscar Velasquez has a scar on his forehead and has a low hair cut. He was last seen barefoot wearing a blue t-shirt with Super Mario in front. He also had on a black three quarter pants with paint spots on it. If you have information that can lead the family or police to Oscar Velasquez please call 911. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

In related news, Belize City Police say they still have no leads into the whereabouts of three year old Jamir Richards, who disappeared on November twenty fourth after he and his mother boarded a bus for the Cayo District. The child’s aunt, Fiona Richards, told the media that on that day her sister, who is a mental patient, left with her son to visit the boy’s father, but the mother returned to Belize City without the child. Police say the mother reportedly travelled to Teakettle Village but there is no information about where the mother and child got off the bus. Richards says her sister told her that she had gotten off the bus because Jamir needed to be changed and she went into the bushes to do so. That was the last time the little boy was seen. If you have any information that can assist the police in finding three year old Jamir Richards, please call 911.


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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