Missing Boy’s Foster Father Says Child Can Walk Without Braces
on August 12, 2009
Reported By STEVE SALDIVAR, AYAKO MIE, SHILANDA WOOLRIDGE, ALEXIA UNDERWOOD / Written By ALEXIA UNDERWOOD & AYAKO MIE
The foster father of missing five-year-old Hasanni Campbell, in a sometimes emotional interview with reporters at his home in Fremont Wednesday night, sought to clarify details of the case.
Authorities have been searching since Monday afternoon for the boy, who has cerebral palsy and disappeared from the 6000 block of College Ave in North Oakland, his foster father, Louis Ross told authorities.
In opening his home Wednesday, Ross also asked for public help, pleading with anyone who might have the boy to drop him off at a hospital or public school. “Hasanni does not wander away,” he said.
Ross also sought to dispel what he considered false facts including the report of Hasanni’s leg braces. He wears “ankle braces,” or orthopedics designed to help shape his feet. He can still walk without them, Ross said.
When asked if he believed that someone he knew might be behind the disappearance, Ross said, “As a father, those are thoughts you don’t entertain. This has been a nightmare.”
He refused to discuss the legalities of the case and said that he and Jennifer Campbell, his fiancé and the boy’s foster mother and aunt, had not hired Oakland attorney John Burris, but were simply seeking guidance from him.
Campbell, the foster mother, remained upstairs for the majority of the interview and did not speak to the press until the end of the interview when she came down to show another picture of the boy.
The search for the missing five year old, which originally centered on College Avenue near Claremont and included a helicopter and search and rescue dogs, expanded to Fremont yesterday.
The F.B.I joined the investigation on Tuesday and searched Hasanni’s home and took Ross’s cell phone, but left his computer, Ross said.
Fremont police searched Karl Nordvik park near the home, but found nothing, authorities said.
Neighbors of Ross and Campbell had little or no connection with Hasanni or his foster parents, they said, seeing the boy infrequently or not at all.
“The first time I heard they had a kid was yesterday,” said Manju Jacob, 41, a neighbor who has lived in Fremont for seven years.
“Most of us have been here for more than four years so everybody knows who everyone is, except for them. They’re brand new.”
Police said yesterday that they had spoken with Hasanni’s biological parents, who live in the Bay area, but refused to give out any details about them.
However, San Francisco Superior Court records show that the city’s Child Support Services filed a Summons and Complaint against Shemika L. Campbell, the mother of Hasanni Campbell. Another summons and complaint was issued against Ronald Hughes, who is named as the boy’s father.
The documents say that the parents have been receiving public assistance from the city since 2003.
So far, the investigation is only based on information provided by Ross, who was responsible for the child when he disappeared, said Oakland police.
Ross told police he parked his car near Shuz of Rockridge at 6012 College Ave where his fiancé, Hasanni’s aunt and foster mother, works. Police said Ross told them he went into the store to open a back door so his disabled son could enter more easily, but when he returned to the car, the boy was gone.
Police did not say whether any witnesses saw the five-year-old boy in the parked car.
Hasanni is three feet tall, weighs 40 lbs and is African American; he has short black hair and brown eyes and was wearing a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants. Anyone with knowledge of the incident should call the Oakland Police Special Victims Section: 510 238 3641.
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