Tests could take weeks to find boy's identity
Thursday, May 1, 2003
CHICAGO -- It will take four to six weeks for DNA tests to determine whether a boy who showed up at a suburban hospital is a child who disappeared from North Carolina more than two years ago, authorities said.
Relatives of Tristen "Buddy" Myers are optimistic that authorities have found the boy, who was 4 when they last saw him in October 2000. The dirty, bedraggled boy arrived at the hospital nearly three months ago.
"It sure looks like him," the boy's great-aunt, Donna Myers, said Tuesday. "The picture they sent up from Chicago matched up with Tristen's and everything looked alike."
It is expected to take four to six weeks for DNA tests to confirm whether a boy who says his name is Eli Quick is actually Tristen, who would be 6 now.
"I think it's him," Tristen's mother, Raven Myers, told WTVD-TV in Durham, N.C. "Just looking at the facial features; they say he's got a lisp, I've got a lisp. It's just weird."
She said she still has custody of the boy -- although Donna Myers has said Raven gave up custody to her parents -- and wants him back if the DNA test shows he is her son.
"They have no paperwork saying I gave him to anybody," Raven Myers told WTVD. "I want to resume the relationship with my son, if I can do it and I want to."
For Illinois authorities, the case began as one of a disappearing father, not a missing child.
A man who identified himself as Ricky Quick brought the boy into an Evanston hospital Feb. 3, saying he "wanted the boy evaluated for aggressive behavior," said Jill Manuel, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The hospital notified the child welfare agency because the boy was filthy and had not changed clothes in several days, Manuel said. Hospital officials called police when the man tried to leave with the boy, and the man was arrested on a warrant for a theft charge out of Chicago, said Evanston Police Cmdr. Michael Perry.
Chicago police spokesman Pat Camden said the man was taken into custody but later released -- which he said was not unusual because the charge was not particularly serious.
FBI officials said Quick was at the agency's Chicago office late Tuesday speaking with investigators. Officials said Quick was at the office voluntarily and responding to questions.
Quick told WMAQ-TV Tuesday that he had raised Eli Quick since the child was born.
"I did not take him from North Carolina," Quick said.
Ricky Quick never returned to the hospital to get the boy and never called about him, which left DCFS worker Sharon Moriarity with the job of tracking down the boy's family, Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy said.
"He talked about his mommy was killed in a crash in Colorado," Murphy said.
Moriarity determined that the woman the boy said was his mother, Sharon Smith, was killed in May 2002, Murphy said, adding that Smith had been Ricky Quick's girlfriend or wife.
As information about Smith trickled in, Moriarity began to doubt she was the boy's mother. "The kid wasn't listed on public aid and the rest of her kids were," Murphy said. "And her sister didn't know she had a son."
Murphy said Moriarity contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and found that the boy "almost exactly" matched the center's age progression image of Tristen.
Tristen disappeared Oct. 5, 2000, when he walked out of Donna Myers' Roseboro, N.C., home to play with his two dogs.
Donna Myers was taking care of the boy at the time. She said Raven Myers was forced to give up custody of Tristen to her parents because she was only 15 when she had him, but that the boy's grandmother later became terminally ill and unable to care for him.
Donna Myers said the FBI and the Sampson County, N.C., sheriff's department investigated the case, but turned up no solid leads or suspects over the last two and a half years.
Authorities are comparing a DNA sample from the boy -- who is in foster care in Chicago -- with one from Raven Myers.
Donna Myers said she has wanted to fly to Chicago from the day she heard Tristen might be there, but has been dissuaded by law enforcement officials and the missing children center, who are wary of the possibility of another false lead.
"I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high," she said. "But it's hard."