AMBER Alert Issued for 4-Year-Old North Carolina Boy

Posted January 28, 2018

A search and rescue for a missing 4-year-old boy has turned into an investigation, authorities say.

Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said at a news conference Saturday that what's believed to be the body of Raul Gonzalez Johnson was found about 1:45 p.m. Saturday after about 8,000 gallons of water were pumped from the pond. They say went Raul went to the home of a neighbor, who told him to go back to his home. "We've got trained people out there, they've come from all over North and SC, and hopefully this will be over soon", he added, WRAL reported. On Thursday, the Scotland County sheriff said the search shifted from strictly a search or recovery to an "investigative side".

The last person to see the boy was an elderly neighbor whom he sometimes visits for snacks.

Investigators plan to drain the pond, Kersey said.

The child has reportedly wandered off before.

Johnson was last seen walking on Village Drive heading towards Crestline Road in Laurinburg, NC, officials say. "If I holler for him he comes back and this time he didn't come back".

Kersey told the station the disappearance is being investigated as a missing persons case, but that investigators haven't ruled out any possible scenarios.

Authorities do not now believe that foul play was involved, based on the interviews they've conducted with Raul's family members, neighbors or information that's come in from the public.

Kersey said investigators have not come across any evidence or information that put them "any closer" to finding Raul. "If he didn't wander off, then someone out there knows something". When the grandfather noticed the child was missing, he looked for Raul on the property for an hour before calling authorities.