Horrific news out of Houston, Texas, indicates that a badly burned body was found in a ditch in northeast part of the city. The report has sparked fears that the body could be that of missing Jonathan Foster, a 12-year-old boy that went missing on Christmas Eve. The young boy, who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, was last seen around 1:45 p.m. that day, having left his babysitter’s house to walk home and retrieve a video game. Jonathan Foster never returned to the babysitter’s home.
The Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday afternoon that Houston Police are unsure at present if the body was that of the missing 12-year-old. Spokesman Kese Smith said that the body, which was found in a shallow ditch next to a roadway between two buildings, was so badly burned that it was unrecognizable, but that the search for the missing boy would continue as if there was no connection between the cases. And that just might be the case.
Smith said that the body looked to be about three feet in length.
Jonathan Foster was five feet tall.
As horrible as it might seem, though, the burning of a body often results in physical contraction to a certain extent (and sometimes the drawing up into a fetal-like position), which might account for a loss in overall length and/or making it difficult to judge true length/height of a body. However, and just as horrible, it possibly suggests that someone burned the body of a small child and dumped it (investigators say the body was burned elsewhere because there were no signs of burning in the area around the body). As incongruous as it might seem, that would also extend hope to Jonathan Foster’s family and friends that he possibly remains alive, albeit still missing.
“They are pursuing every lead they have,” Smith told the Chronicle.
As Houston officials attempt to identify the burned body, Houston Police continue canvassing, questioning, and searching. The investigative search organization Texas Equusearch has also joined the investigation. Tuesday saw search teams combing wooded areas around the Villa Nueva Apartments and surrounding areas in the hope of finding leads to the whereabouts of the missing boy.
But confusing stories about Jonathan Foster’s disappearance have plagued Houston Police since the investigation began. Varying stories from different family members and witnesses have police confused as to where the boy was and who may have seen him last.
“I don’t know if it’s an abduction,” Sgt. Stuart Harris of HPD’s Missing Persons Unit told the HoustonChronicle. “I don’t know if he just walked off. I don’t know if there’s foul play involved. We have no reason to think he’s a runaway. … He’s missing under suspicious circumstances, which is always a major concern for us.”
According to Jonathan’s grandmother, his stepfather saw him last. Mary Gifford told KHOU in Houston that a few minutes later, at around 2:00 p.m. Christmas Eve, Angela Martin, Jonathan’s mother, received a mysterious phone call at work. She had been called to the phone for an emergency but when she picked up the receiver, the call had been disconnected.
Houston Police issued an Amber Alert for Jonathan Foster Monday. They alerted the public to the fact that he could be in the company of a female with a raspy voice.
As with any ongoing investigation, police are looking for leads in the Jonathan Foster case. The youth is described as being 5 feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds. He has blue eyes and red or auburn hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a tan t-shirt with a guitar stencil on the front, and a grey hoodie. He also had on white sneakers with a red stripe.
Anyone with any information regarding Jonathan Foster or his whereabouts is urged to call the Houston Police Department at 713-731-5223 or Texas EquuSearch at 281-309-9500.
Lindsay Wise and Dale Lezon, “Police unsure if body found in ditch is missing boy,” Chron.com
Lindsay Wise and Paige Hewitt, “Search intensifies for missing 12-year-old,” Chron.com
“Search resumes for missing 12-year-old Houston boy,” KHOU.com