LAURINBURG — Deputies are searching for 4-year-old boy who went missing from his home on Crestline Road in Scotland County on Wednesday.
Raul Gonzales is 3-feet tall, weighs 47 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing matching blue and white pajamas with rocket ships on them. He wasn’t wearing shoes.
“He is not the type of child to just walk off the property and walk four miles down the road where our dogs hit,” said Detective Sgt. Jessica Sadovnikov with the Scotland Ccounty Sheriff’s Office.
An Amber Alert has been issued for the child, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
K-9 officers, one from Scotland County and one from Richmond County, were used to track the boy’s scent ,which according to Sadovnikov, led from the home three miles down the road, then a quarter mile to a barn in the woods. During separate tracks, the dogs lost the boy’s scent at the barn.
“We’ve searched the barn and haven’t found any indication of foul play. We saw some disturbance in the pine needles, but we can’t find him,” Sadovnikov said.
Raul and his six-year-old sister were being watched by their grandfather while their mother, Annie Johnson, was at work.
Sadovnikov, who has dealt with the family multiple times, said Raul has been known to wonder the family’s property, which has several trailers, sheds and a chicken coop on it but emphasized he has never left the property before.
The last person to see Raul was an elderly neighbor that he visits every morning for cookies and candy at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“(Woman) said this morning was unusual because he knocked on the door and didn’t speak to her, which is very uncommon for him,” Sadovnikov said.
Sadovnikov said the neighbor didn’t see any obvious signs of abuse and that the grandfather didn’t realize Raul was missing until 11:30 a.m. The family then spent an hour looking for Raul on the property before calling 911.
“Based on my training experience and interactions with this child, I don’t think he would have ever gone that far alone, there’s no way,” Sadovnikov said.
Sadovnikov said the sheriff’s office does not have any suspects this time.
Raul’s biological father, Carols Gonzales, is currently under a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer hold after he was arrested in September 2017 on seven counts of child molestation.
The mother was also charged at the time with abuse, but those charges were later dropped.
A command post has been set up at Good News Chapel at Pea Bridge Road in Laurinburg. A mobile command center will be parked in front of the church to help orchestrate the search teams from area law enforcement, search and rescue and fire departments.
North Carolina Highway State Patrol and the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office brought in helicopters and the Moore County Sheriff’s Office sent deputies and a drone to aid search efforts.
If you have any information on the child’s whereabouts or if you’ve seen him, you’re asked to immediately call 911 or Sadovnikov at 910-551-8736.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.