The search for a missing 6-year-old Texas boy who has not been seen for months is now a death investigation, police in Everman said Thursday.
The boy, Noel Rodriguez-Alvarez, was last seen in October at a hospital when his mother, Cindy Rodriguez-Singh, was there to give birth to twins, police said.
Police conducted a welfare check March 20 at the family's home, but Noel was not there. Two days later, Rodriguez-Singh, her husband, and six other children got on a plane and traveled to India, Everman Police Chief Craig Spencer said.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, along with the evidence available to us at this time, it has led to a very unfortunate, unimaginable and devastating conclusion — that Noel is likely deceased,” Spencer said at a news conference Thursday.
A body has not been found. Police said they're working to develop additional locations to search, and some searches have already begun.
The search for the Noel has included using dogs that can detect human remains, and digging up a recently poured concrete porch at the property where the family had been staying, police have said.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Rodriguez-Singh and her husband, Arshdeep Singh, on a charge of abandoning and endangering a child.
Spencer said police want them arrested and extradited back to the United States. Investigators believe they are still in India, he said.
The search began on March 20, when the Texas Department of Family Services asked police to conduct a welfare check on the boy, officials have said.
At the time Rodriguez-Singh claimed Noel was in Mexico with his biological father, which investigators later determined was not true, police said.
Interviews with relatives and a witness suggest Rodriguez-Singh had been abusive to Noel, including depriving him of food and water and at one point striking him with her keys, Spencer said Thursday.
The last time the child had been seen by a medical professional was in July for speech therapy, he said. Other professional appointments around that time were missed.
Police said investigators have since learned Rodriguez-Singh has previously made comments that the boy was "evil" or "possessed."
At the time that Rodriguez-Singh and her husband and the other children flew to India, there were no warrants for them or anything else that would have prevented them from getting on a plane, police have said.
Federal agencies are assisting, Spencer said. A criminal investigation is continuing, he said.
"I understand that this is not the news that we were all hoping for, or praying for," Spencer said.