Police Investigation of Missing Fremont Boy Continues

on August 13, 2009

Photo by Shilanda Woolridge

Photo by Shilanda Woolridge

By ALEXIA UNDERWOOD; Additional reporting by AYAKO MIE, SHILANDA WOOLRIDGE, and STEVE SALDIVAR

The search for missing five-year-old Hasanni Campbell continued Thursday as Oakland homicide investigators joined the on-going investigation.

The boy, who has cerebral palsy, was last seen by his foster father, Louis Ross of Fremont outside of a shoe store in the Rockridge district of North Oakland Monday afternoon, police said.

The F.B.I. joined the case on Tuesday and police used a helicopter and search and rescue dogs to search the 6000 block of College Ave where he was reportedly last seen.
Fremont detectives also searched a park near the boy’s house in Fremont yesterday, but found nothing, authorities said.

Fremont Police Detective Bill Veteran said that kidnappings were “a rarity” in Fremont, where the boy is from.  The most recent incident, he said, was a child abduction involving the child’s father, but that was several years ago.  Abductions by strangers were especially rare, he said.

Abductions of children by family members are about three times more common than abductions by strangers, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics in 2002.

The boy’s foster father, Louis Ross, reached out to the media yesterday evening, to plead for the boy’s return.

“Hasanni does not wander away,” he said, adding that the media misunderstood him.  He had been fully cooperating with the police and F.B.I. investigation, he said.

Ross invited three reporters into his home, where he lives with Jennifer Campbell, the boy’s foster mother and aunt and 1-year old sister, who was reportedly taken into custody earlier this week.

The house was full of reminders of the two children; empty strollers and baby toys were visible from the living room and a small pink sandal lay on the wooden floor.

During the 20-minute interview, Ross 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.”

Ross refused to discuss legalities of the case with reporters, but the Oakland Tribune reported that he took a polygraph test today, although police could not be reached for comment.

Edward Wunsch, a Minnesota-based expert on child abduction cases, said that police perform polygraph tests to eliminate the possibility of parent’s involvement.

Ross told police on Monday that he parked his car near Shuz of Rockridge at 6012 College Ave where his fiancé, Hasanni’s aunt and foster mother, works. Ross said 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.

3 Comments

  1. Ann on August 14, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I just want to say thank you for continuing to cover this story. As a local resident, it shocks and frightens me to think that a child could be taken from this location, and it saddens me that this story seems to be getting so little attention from other news outlets. Has everyone already reached some conclusion about it? I don’t understand how or why they would, at least based on what’s been reported.



  2. Alexia Underwood on August 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks Ann. We’re trying to stay on top of this story, but we haven’t heard anything new as of this morning. It’s a very sad, sad event. I don’t think any conclusions have been reached, at least according to what the police have told us. Everyone seems to be sitting tight, waiting for new information.



  3. […] the past year to trying to find Campbell, who had cerebral palsy, used braces to walk, and was five years old at the time of his disappearance. Over the last year the group has held vigils and meetings, as well as organized large-scale […]



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