Candlelight vigil held for missing infant - East Valley Tribune: News

Candlelight vigil held for missing infant

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Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2010 9:42 pm | Updated: 3:44 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

About 150 people gathered on the south soccer field in Scottsdale’s Chaparral Park on Sunday for a candlelight vigil to pray for the safe return of missing 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson whose father and family pleaded for anyone with knowledge of the boy’s whereabouts to come forward.

Slideshow: Vigil for Gabriel Johnson

About 150 people gathered on the south soccer field in Scottsdale’s Chaparral Park on Sunday for a candlelight vigil to pray for the safe return of missing 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson whose father and family pleaded for anyone with knowledge of the boy’s whereabouts to come forward.

Slideshow: Vigil for Gabriel Johnson

Police: 'Great concern' over missing baby

It’s been six weeks since Logan McQueary last saw his son. On Dec. 18 Gabriel’s mother, Elizabeth Johnson of Tempe, drove off with him in her grandfather’s white 1995 Delta-88 Oldsmobile to San Antonio, Tex. in the midst of a custody battle.

Johnson hasn’t told authorities of the baby’s whereabouts since her arrest without the child last month, and has changed her story about what she did with the baby at least twice.

Johnson first told McQueary, her estranged boyfriend, on Dec. 27, she killed Gabriel and stuffed his body in a diaper bag and put his body in a trash bin, according to a Maricopa County Superior Court document. Johnson also told FBI investigators she gave the baby to a couple in a park in San Antonio.

Logan McQueary said late Sunday that he wanted to keep the story in the forefront of the media in hopes of his son's safe return.

Tips to authorities are beginning to dwindle, but the story of “Baby Gabriel” is starting to be heard around the world as the McQuearys have received emails of support from people in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Africa.

Dozens of people drove from far distances to attend the quiet and solemn vigil, including a woman who drove from Queen Creek and gave Logan a small stuffed teddy bear to give to Gabriel upon his safe return.

Large photographs of Gabriel were displayed at the vigil as family friends of the McQuearys passed out badges with Gabriel's picture that read "Pray for Baby Gabriel bring him home"

“Just tell us where he is,” said Logan McQueary, surrounded by numerous family and friends as he flanked his grandmother, Dorothy “Dot” Woodard, moments before the vigil in the neighborhood where he grew up.

“Maybe these people are out there and don’t want to give him up. We just don’t know. We want him back safe. If someone out there has him, we want these people to know he has a family who loves him.”

Johnson, 23, was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla. on Dec. 30, and remains incarcerated on a $1.1 million cash bond in the Maricopa County Estrella Jail. She has been charged with kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference, all felonies.

Tempe police have named a Scottsdale couple, Jack and Tammi Smith, who were trying to adopt Gabriel as persons of interest in the case, because they believe the Smiths are withholding information that could lead them to the baby.

Johnson most recently said she gave Gabriel away to a couple inside the motel room before placing him in their car baby seat and signing adoption papers.

Police have not ruled out the possibility of Johnson killing the baby, but believe he’s still alive.

Tia Siqueiros, who attended the vigil, carrying her 10-month old daughter, said she knows of the McQueary family’s situation through a friend.

“It’s really sad,” Siqueiros said. “I couldn’t even imagine. I don’t let her (her daughter) out of my sight. To not know where your child is..."

Crystal Garcia, who is a friend of Logan’s sister, Nicole McQueary, also was at the vigil.

“We’re hoping for the best,” Garcia said, “We think Gabriel is out there.”

Authorities are re-tracing Johnson’s movements through a GPS tracking device and computers she logged into, including one on the the day of her arrest, according to her MySpace page.

Johnson has a history of domestic violence, and McQueary said he believes she is capable of harming the child, but doesn’t want to believe it.

“I believe he’s out there,” McQueary said.

Woodard said, “Please, please, please — Just think about what you’ve seen, what you’ve done and what you’ve heard, and if you know of anything out there, call police. We need that little boy. The whole family needs that little boy. We’re not giving up. If someone out there has him, we want you to do the right thing.”

McQueary’s aunt, Kelli McQueary, also spoke during the vigil before seven of Logan’s cousins released balloons and six were released for his cousins who could not attend. Logan McQueary released a green balloon for Gabriel.

A family friend of McQueary’s also led the crowd in prayer.

“We can never say thank you enough from the support we’ve received from all over the world,” Kelli McQueary said.

McQueary’s uncle, Will McQueary, said he didn’t want to speculate what Johnson did with Gabriel.

“It’s one or the other,” McQueary said. “We just don’t know.”

If anyone has any information about Gabriel's whereabouts, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800 843-5678.

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