Wine party planned to fund search for missing boy
on October 29, 2009
S. Howard Bransford/Oakland North
In the months since Fremont boy Hassani Campbell went missing, volunteers have waged a do-it-yourself sleuthing campaign, combing parks, open spaces and waterways throughout the East Bay for signs of his whereabouts.
The efforts began after the Oakland Police Department arrested Hassani’s foster parents, Fremont residents Louis Ross and Jennifer Campbell, but the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department declined to press charges due to insufficient evidence.
Since then, searchers have found few clues. A volunteer diver who searched Fremont’s Lake Elizabeth came up empty, and recruits who looked through Oakland parks found nothing except pieces of clothing that yielded no breakthroughs in the case.
Now Campbell’s supporters are planning to renew their effort with a Sunday fundraiser at a Livermore winery. The party, which will run from 2 to 8 p.m. at Garré Winery, will cost $30 per person and feature live music and food, said organizer Sheri-Lyn Miller.
Entertainment will be provided by professional musicians as well as youth groups from the area, said Miller, a San Leandro print shop owner who has been a key search organizer since Campbell went missing around August 10.
Miller, who noted that the boy would have recently celebrated his sixth birthday, said all of the proceeds will go toward continuing the community investigation into his disappearance. Campbell’s foster parents say the boy disappeared from a car parked near Shuz of Rockridge, the shop where Jennifer Campbell worked.
With no clues advancing the case, Miller said, organizers may hire a private investigator to strengthen their efforts.
“The money’s going to be used to continue searching for him,” said Miller. “The case is all but closed.”
Annie André, director of operations at Garré, said the winery is involved in the event out of concern that the official investigation will not be enough to find the boy.
“I feel like whatever’s happened, he deserves to be found and brought home,” Andre said.
Officer Jeffrey Thomason, public information officer for the Oakland Police Department, said investigators are still working on the case despite a heavy workload with other crimes in the city. As of Thursday, Oakland has had 94 homicides this year. The department works with a crew of 14 investigators, according to Thomason, and each one is conducting an average of eight to ten cases at any given time.
This year, however, the department strengthened its homicide unit by assigning two more investigators and additional uniformed officers to work on murder cases. The department has no plans to give up on Campbell, he said.
“This is an open case,” Thomason said. “It’ll be under investigation until it’s closed.”
Sunday’s event will take place at 7986 Tesla Road in Livermore. Tickets can be purchased at All In One Stop Print Shop, 15976 East 14th Street in San Leandro or at Highline Custom Jewelry at the Southland Mall in Hayward. More information can be obtained by calling (510) 276-9090 or (510) 517-0785.
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