Florida authorities believe missing boy is dead
PASCO COUNTY, Florida (CNN) -- Florida authorities early Thursday are combing the areas along Interstate 75 in west-central Florida for a 2-year-old boy they believe was killed by his baby-sitters, a Polk County Sheriff's spokeswoman said.
The baby-sitters -- Amandy Lawrence, 22, and Richard Chouquer, 24 -- were detained in Utah Wednesday. The couple told authorities that the boy -- Alfredo Montez -- could be in Pasco County, according to Polk County Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Garrett.
"We've got to put this puzzle together, we've got to find a child," Garrett said.
Police are working on the assumption that the boy is dead, she said.
Montez has been missing since late June, when his mother left him and his 4-year-old sister with Lawrence and Chouquer in Auburndale, Florida. On July 4, the couple disappeared with Alfredo, leaving the girl with their roommate.
The roommate, a cousin of the sitters, contacted police.
Utah police found the couple in the southwestern city of Hurricane after Polk County authorities alerted them to be on the lookout for them because Chouquer is believed to have family in the area, Garrett said.
The couple is being held on suspicion of murder, although it was still too early to formally charge them, she said.
Polk County Sheriff Lawrence Crow and his deputies were searching a 15-mile radius in Pasco County for any sign of the boy, Garrett said. They have set up a command center in the county, just north of Tampa, and the search would continue overnight, according to the Sheriff's office.
Alfredo's mother, who was arrested Tuesday on an outstanding warrant for parole violation, was informed of the development Wednesday afternoon, Garrett said.
The boy's sister, Rheyna, is fine and is in the custody of a family member after a Wednesday hearing in Polk County. She was originally placed in the custody of the Department of Children Services, Garrett said.
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