Nearly one year after Adji Desir’s disappearance, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office continues to follow up on tips and leads in the hope of bringing the 7-year-old Immokalee boy home.
“I’m still optimistic that someone within Collier County has information that will lead us in a direction that will help us focus on whether this is a case of Adji just walking off and getting into trouble, or whether someone took Adji from Farm Worker Village. And I am looking forward to that call,” said Sgt. Ken Becker, who is overseeing the CCSO investigation into Adji’s disappearance.
Adji, who is developmentally disabled, was last seen playing outside his grandmother’s house in Farm Worker Village in Immokalee on Jan. 10, 2009, while his mother was at work. There has been no sign of him since.
More than 1,300 people from law enforcement and other agencies around Florida _ including 700 CCSO deputies _ joined in an intensive weeklong search. Searchers combed the Immokalee area on horseback and all-terrain vehicles, in helicopters, with K-9, as well as in patrol cars and on foot.
The investigation is ongoing.
CCSO investigators fielded hundreds of tips in the weeks after the boy’s disappearance, but the number of tips dwindled by fall.
However, recent national exposure of the case has helped to generate 40 to 50 new leads that investigators are following up on, according to Sgt. Becker.
Adji was featured on the cover of the November issue of People magazine, which profiled the cases of six children who went missing in 2009.
Adji’s photo and information were featured on national direct mail advertising fliers distributed to 75 million homes across the United States in November and December. The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), Valassis Inc, a leading media and marketing services company, and the U.S. Postal Service distributed the fliers as part of Valassis’ Have You Seen Me?® picture program.
Adji’s disappearance has also been profiled on CNN’s “Nancy Grace” show and on “America’s Most Wanted,” most recently on Dec. 5. AMW is featuring the case on its Web site at http://www.amw.com/missing_children/case.cfm?id=62497’
CCSO has produced a video about the case and the agency is asking that everyone post it to their blogs, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites and e-mail the link to it to everyone in their address book. The video's release in July coincided with the six-month anniversary of Adji's disappearance. Click here to watch the video.
Click here to view the flier.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 252-9300, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780- TIPS (8477).
CCSO and NCMEC offer these tips for families to help better safeguard their children:
* Teach your children to run away from danger, never toward it. If anyone should try to grab them, tell them to make a scene: Loudly yell this person is not my father/mother/guardian, and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and resisting.
* Never let your child go places alone, and always supervise young children or make sure there is a trusted adult present.
* Know where your children are and whom they are with at all times.
* Talk openly to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or a trusted adult if anyone or anything makes you feel scared, uncomfortable or confused.
* Practice what you teach by creating “what if” scenarios with your children to make sure they understand the safety message and are able to use it in a real situation.
* Install an alarm system in your home with a monitoring feature, if possible. Make sure your home is secured with deadbolt locks, and ensure landscaping around it doesn’t provide places for people to hide.
* Have a list of family members who could be contacted in case of an emergency. Designate a family member or close associate who would be able to fill the role of adviser in case of an emergency.
* Consider varying your daily routines and habits. Do not take the same routes such as when taking your child to school or go at the same time on your regular errands.
* Know your employees and co-workers. Do background screening and reference checks on everyone who works at your home, particularly those individuals who care for your children.
* Report any suspicious persons to law enforcement.