A national center for missing children Wednesday distributed 10,000 flyers with photos of a missing New Mexico toddler and his stepfather to hotels, hospitals, convenience stores and police as the search widened.
The 16-month-old boy, Justin Black, and his stepfather, Ivan Villa, disappeared from the Ruidoso apartment where the child’s mother was found strangled Sunday.
The toddler is believed to be with Villa, 22, who is wanted on a felony kidnapping warrant. Police also want to talk with him about the death of Kristi Black, 19, but they have not called him a suspect.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children faxed some 10,000 flyers with photos of the toddler and Villa to businesses and agencies in areas where investigators believe the pair might have traveled.
The boy’s photo also appeared at the top of the group’s Web site.
The death of Justin’s mother “makes it more important to make sure that the child is not in jeopardy,” said Robert O’Brien, director of the group’s missing children’s division. “The urgency in this case is greater because (Villa) is being pursued as a fugitive. The risk he might take could be exacerbated.”
Police and federal agents were continuing what they described as an intense search for Justin. The boy’s mother was found dead hours after police answered a call about an argument between the woman and her husband.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” said Lt. Jimmy Glascock of the New Mexico State Police, which issued an Amber Alert for the missing boy late Sunday. “We are working with the FBI and the Ruidoso Police Department. The FBI has reached out to various parts of Texas. They’ve been working relentlessly since they’ve been involved in the investigation.”
Glascock said investigators also were in touch with authorities in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where the dead woman’s car was found abandoned in a residential neighborhood Tuesday. Authorities also said they were checking into a tip that a man fitting Villa’s description was spotted carrying a baby across the Santa Fe International Bridge on the border with Mexico.
Ruidoso is about 190 miles southeast of Albuquerque.