updated 8/3/2010 9:38:59 AM ET 2010-08-03T13:38:59

A toddler missing since late last month from a campground is feared dead, and the case has turned into a criminal investigation, authorities in northern Arizona say.

Investigators do not believe that 2-year-old Sylar Newton wandered off on his own as his custodial mother said, Yavapai County sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said Monday.

The boy was last seen the night of July 24 at the Beaver Creek Campground near Rimrock, where he was camping with his custodial mother and her family.

Investigators believe the boy was taken from the immediate area, D'Evelyn said. A nine-day search of landfills, trash bins and other areas of the campsite turned up no sign of him.

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