Search for missing Portland boy intensifies as tips pour in


by and Associated Press

Posted on June 7, 2010 at 7:51 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 7 at 9:17 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Twenty-two state, local and federal agencies are following up on more than 1,200 tips in the search for a 7-year-old Portland boy who has been missing for four days.

Kyron Horman disappeared from Skyline Elementary School on Friday. Multnomah County sheriff's deputies and volunteers have been searching the densely wooded area near the pastoral school since then.

On Monday morning, deputies and FBI agents posted about 40 yards from the school stopped approaching cars and asked passengers whether they were at the school Friday and had any information about Kyron.

“Kyron, we’re going to get you home buddy,” Multnomah County Sheriff's Capt. Jason Gates said Monday, his voice cracking and his eyes tearing up during a noon press conference. "Nothing is more important to your family, your friends and to us."

Speaking again to reporters about four hours later, Gates said authorities have gotten tips from across Oregon and from Washington state. He would not elaborate but said most of the tips were from within Oregon.

Gates described the variety of tips as "leads that aren't as exciting, and other leads that are more prevalent."

"We need more," he said at a news conference Monday. "Every tip, no matter how insignificant you think it is, could be the one we need."

Searchers spent the day continuing to comb through woods and brush around the school, located in hilly countryside west of downtown Portland. Gates said Monday's ground search would continue until nightfall.

Authorities also were questioning school employees and parents of children who attend the school.

Kyron and his step-mother, Terri Moulton Horman, attended a science fair at Skyline Elementary School before classes began on Friday. Then, they said goodbye and Terri watched the second-grader walk down the hallway toward his classroom at about 8:45 a.m.

But the second-grader never made it into his classroom and his step-mom wasn't able to figure that out until late afternoon. The school bus pulled up to Kyron’s stop but he didn’t step off. So Terri immediately called the school to find out why he wasn’t on the bus and they told her that he was marked “absent” by his teacher that day.

She called 911 just before 4 p.m., and the search effort was launched. Police walked the school grounds with K-9 tracking teams, searched every room and closet inside the school and even checked the roof.

FBI and police coordinating search effort

The search quickly snowballed as word of the little boy’s disappearance spread among the small school’s community in northwest Portland. Police said the search area was spread across 20 miles of roadway and two square miles of land. Officers also handed out flyers and questioned drivers and area residents Monday.

Several area police agencies teamed up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Oregon National Guard to try and figure out what happened to Kyron Horman.

Gates said an "army of detectives" are going through about 1,200 tips they're received since last Friday and pleaded for the public to call with any information they may have about Kryon's whereabouts.

"Every tip, no matter how insignificant, is important to us," he said.

Officers searched the extensive woods outside the grade school Monday for Kyron. They also interviewed parents driving their children to school.

Sheriff Dan Staton said late Sunday night that he was "not prepared" to call the boy's disappearance a kidnapping. He described Kyron as a "missing endangered child" because more than two days had elapsed since he disappeared and because search efforts were hampered by rainy weather.

"We have developed a lot of information which has to be processed thoroughly, and I am not in a position to divulge any specifics of our investigative plan at this time," Staton said in a statement.

Also over the weekend, an FBI profiler was flown in from the agency’s headquarters to join the case. He will study everything from Kyron’s schoolwork to his friends, to try and determine where the little boy might be.

In their effort to leave no stone unturned, investigators on Sunday interviewed parents of other students at the school, trying to come up with even the smallest clues about what could have happened. The parents and Kyron’s fellow students came to the school voluntarily on a staggered basis to interview with detectives.

Kyron described as a 'really good kid'

Parent Gina Zimmerman said she last saw Kyron in the morning, when he posed in a classroom in front of his "red-eyed tree frog" science project. She said her daughter is one of Kyron’s best friends and she knew him well.

Zimmerman said that Kyron was not the type of child to wander off. "He knows 'stranger danger," she said. "He's a really good kid."

Parents were shocked at the disappearance, she said, and have been calling to share concerns at "our little school where everyone knows everybody."

To try and quell those fears, security was increased at the school Monday. Counselors were also on hand to talk to distraught students and staff members.

Authorities were reviewing photos and videos taken during the school's science fair.

In addition, the district began mandating the use of an automated attendance call system to notify families of any unexcused absences.

No Amber Alert issued

Some parents wanted to know why an Amber Alert wasn’t issued. Sheriff Gates said that tool works only when citizens can be offered descriptions of specific suspects or vehicles, which was not the case here. That's not the case here, he said.

Parents were urged to talk to their children about stranger danger and explain what to do if they were in Kyron’s situation.

Distraught family working with detectives

Kyron’s family was doing the best they could to cooperate with police and talk with searchers under traumatic circumstances, Capt. Gates said. The birth mother came to Portland after her son was reported missing and all the parents have been in constant contact with detectives, he said.

Anyone who has seen Kyron or knows of his whereabouts was asked to call police at (503) 261-2847.