Source: Burned body believed to be missing boy

December 29, 2010 9:39:34 AM PST
New developments are expected today in the case of a 12-year-old boy missing since Christmas Eve. Sources tell Eyewitness News that remains found yesterday are that of Jonathan Foster. The medical examiner this morning is expected to confirm that some burned remains found yesterday are that of 12-year-old Jonathan Foster.

There is a now a make-shift memorial in front of the apartment complex where Jonathan was last seen Friday afternoon. He lives with his mother and stepfather.

Houston police are still waiting for official identification from the Medical Examiner's Office, but we're told investigators are proceeding as if the body found is that of Jonathan Foster.

We know the boy's mother and stepfather are at police headquarters while others spent Tuesday honoring Jonathan. Family and friends gathered together to draw strength at a candlelight vigil. With every candle, there is still hope Jonathan will come home.

"I know the Lord is not going to let me down," said Mary Gifford, Jonathan's grandmother.

Gifford spoke to the crowd that included search volunteers, church members and loved ones. The 12-year-old has been missing for four days and while the search intensified today, so did the wait.

"Pure hell. It's hard. It tears you apart. You're on a roller coaster ride," said Gifford.

Adding to the agony is the discovery of a child's badly burned body Tuesday morning just five miles away from the home where Jonathan was last seen. Police on East Hardy told us the body had been dumped there.

At the time, they didn't know whether there was a link. But Tuesday night, police sources told us there is.

On Monday, Jonathan's stepfather told us his theory about what happened.

"I think a pedophile took him. That's what I think and I want him back. I want revenge. Something, something like that, you know," said stepfather David Davis.

He faced additional police questions and was not seen publicly. Houston police towed away his car, but wouldn't say why. As is standard, all family members have been extensively interviewed.

Child Protective Services confirms they have no record of abuse or neglect.

Investigators also spoke with the 50 or so registered sex offenders in the area, as well as neighbors.

The vigil Tuesday night served as support during such a difficult time.

"I'm trying to stay positive, stay strong, believing he's still out there and will come home," said Gifford.

Texas Equusearch has suspended its search, but the Amber Alert is still in effect.

We're told police are zeroing in on a suspect.

Earlier Tuesday

Tuesday was another agonizing day for Jonathan's family. Mary Gifford, Jonathan's maternal grandmother, sat down with us only seconds before she received a call. GIfford wouldn't say who called, but she left immediately.

A few minutes later, we saw Gifford with her daughter, Angela Davis, at Davis' apartment off North Shepherd. This is where Davis lived with her son, Jonathan, and his stepfather, David Davis. Houston police towed a Mercedes we found registered to a David Davis. However, neither the family nor police would say to whom the car belongs.

Meanwhile, less than five miles away off East Hardy, police were investigating a gruesome discovery. A body believed to be a child was found.

"The body is not identified right now. The body is burned. The burn location is not here. That's all we know," said Lt. Leslie Martinez with the Houston Police Department.

Jonathan's grandmother was taken for a second time Tuesday to be questioned by police. Authorities say she has been cooperating with the investigation and say that it is routine for them to interview family members in these types of cases.

Police and Equusearch say until the child's body is identified, they will continue their search for Jonathan, who was last seen inside his apartment playing video games.

"We're going to be expandng our search for Jonathan and searching for an area that looks like its been burned or disturbed," said Tim Miller of Equussearch.

At Garden Oaks Baptist Church on North Shepherd, there was a prayer vigil being scheduled for Tuesday evening for Jonathan.

Jonathan was last seen wearing a tan shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers with a red stripe and a zip-up grey hoodie. He is about 5 feet tall and about 100 pounds.

If you know anything about Jonathan's whereabouts, you're asked to call Houston police at 713-731-5223 or Texas Equusearch at 281-309-9500.

Volunteers gather to search

Dozens of volunteers gathered this morning at the Garden Oaks Baptist Church and are planning to go to eight to 10 possible locations to look for the fifth-grader.

Jonathan was last seen Friday night at his home on Oak Street near Garden Oaks. He had run home from a babysitter's house in the neighborhood. He was home playing video games when his stepfather says he stopped in, but Jonathan was gone just 25 minutes later when his mother came home from work.

The FBI and Texas Equusearch are assisting in the search. They spent time this morning mapping out search strategies. They're starting their search at the apartment complex where Jonathan lives and then expanding from there. They're looking for any clues that may lead to his location, including a portable or cordless phone which is missing from the home.

"We are doing some driving and actually looking at these areas and then if they see an area where they could have dumped something, or a wooded or field area, they are going to be searching that," said Tim Miller with Texas Equusearch.

"I really have no expectations going into this," said volunteer Sydney Suarez. "I've never done this before, but just having a chance to help out is really helping me a lot."

Jonathan's family is not involved with the search although his stepfather was at the command center earlier this morning.

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