Fredericksburg area investigators yesterday halted their search in the case of a missing 3-year-old boy and charged the boyfriend of the toddler's mother with felony child endangerment.
One day after Spotsylvania County sheriff's deputies and dozens of others searched a wooded area for Tyreek Sheamar Davis, who was last seen Wednesday, authorities said they had no more leads on where to look.
Late Thursday, Fredericksburg police charged Herman L. Black, 45, with felony child endangerment because Tyreek disappeared while in his care. Police already had Black in custody because hours after the boy disappeared, they realized that Black was wanted on two warrants for firearms violations. Black is being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail.
Fredericksburg police also searched Black's gold and brown 1989 GM pickup truck, but Jim Shelhorse, spokesman for the city police department, would not say what may have been found. Tyreek's mother, Linette Davis, 29, and her family said that Black was being unfairly targeted.
Black, who runs a wood-cutting business on the Spotsylvania-Caroline county line, said that he left the child sleeping in the truck while he went into the Fredericksburg Wal-Mart on Wednesday afternoon and that when he returned less than 10 minutes later, the boy was missing. He told police that the child had been abducted, but police said there is no evidence of that. At the time, Davis was with her sister at a court proceeding.
Shelhorse said his department did not put out an Amber Alert, but yesterday the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children posted the case on its Web site. The group also sent out 4,000 fliers, he said.
Davis sounded in shock over the disappearance of her son, the youngest of four.
Davis said that she has been with Black for about a year and that her children call him "Daddy." The six of them had been living in a motel off Interstate 95 in Caroline County for about a month, she said, while they looked for housing and Black set up his business.
She said they had been moving around eastern Virginia in recent years, "trying to find some stability for me and my kids." With her three older children in the Caroline County schools this year, she, Black and Tyreek were together most of the time during the day, she said.
"We have a good relationship. He's good with the kids. Any misconceptions would be false," she said.
"I don't know what to think," Davis said when asked what she thought of the attention police were giving her boyfriend. "I'm just hoping that wherever my son is, he's safe and unharmed."
Spotsylvania County sheriff's deputies searched a landfill Thursday, a move Shelhorse said was a precaution because the facility was close to Black's business and the home of Black's brother.
Police said that Black did not immediately call them when he discovered the boy gone. Instead, he drove about 40 minutes back to Caroline County to get Davis and bring her back to the Wal-Mart, where they continued to search.
Davis said yesterday that she thought Black was joking when he told her on the phone that the boy was missing.
"He should have came and got her sooner or called police when he first saw the boy was missing," said Davis's mother, Brenda Childs. Yesterday, she was looking after Davis's other children; Davis said it was too hard to get organized and send them to school. "What was he thinking? I don't know," said Childs, who said she didn't doubt Black's story. "Maybe he wanted to find [Tyreek] himself."