A 6-year-old boy who vanished a week ago while playing near his home was found slain Thursday, and police said they would probably charge a registered sex offender, his parents and another neighbor with murder.
The partially concealed body of Christopher Michael Barrios was discovered by a state ranger about three miles from the youngster’s home, authorities said.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said it was obvious the boy had been killed, but he would not say how and would not disclose how long the body had been there.
Earlier this week, police arrested four people — a convicted child molester living in the trailer park, his parents and a friend of theirs — in connection with the boy’s disappearance.
Investigators said the four suspects frustrated officers for days with a tangle of conflicting stories about abducting and burying the boy. But repeated searches of the spots where some of the suspects claimed to have buried the body turned up nothing, investigators said.
More than 300 volunteers had searched for Christopher, who lived with his father in a neighborhood of about 50 mobile homes along a narrow, U-shaped road just outside Brunswick.
Toy was left behind
Neighbors told police that they last saw the boy on the evening of March 8, playing by himself on the swing set outside a friend’s home. One of his toys, a Star Wars light saber, was found beside the road.
George David Edenfield, a mentally slow 32-year-old man who lived with his parents across the street from the boy’s grandmother, was arrested earlier this week and charged with violating his probation from a 1997 child molestation conviction, which prohibits him from contact with children. Police said he admitted playing a role in Christopher’s disappearance, but they would not be more specific.
Edenfield’s parents were jailed on charges of obstruction and lying to police because they first denied knowing anything about the boy’s disappearance, then later said they knew he had been abducted, authorities said.
The same charges were brought against a fourth suspect, Donald Dale. Police said he told them he helped bury the boy.
The police chief said the four suspects will probably be charged with murder.
Father taken to scene
Doering said he escorted the boy’s father, Mike Barrios, to the scene to see the body at the father’s request.
“That was the hardest part,” Doering said. “When it’s your only son that has been killed and you want to go look for the last time, that’s tough.”
Doering said none of the tips from the suspects led to the discovery of the body. After two days of fruitless searching in a patch of dense woods a quarter-mile from the trailer park, police expanded their search area Thursday and found the boy near the county airport.
The police chief said the body was covered with some sort of material, but he would not be more specific.
About 60 volunteer searchers, many wearing T-shirts printed with the boy’s photo, hugged and wept as Doering confirmed Christopher’s death to reporters.
“You suspected all along in your heart, it’s just not the outcome you want,” said Mari Charnock, who had been coming to help search since Sunday. “At least we know, though. At least it’s over.”