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And every morning, they said, they always see the boy next door — year-old Xavior Harrelson — riding his blue bike outside their north-facing window. I think he has a little crush on her. By then, Montezuma schools had already started their summer vacation. Vigils have been held, and hundreds of community members and other volunteers have searched for Harrelson throughout the city of about 1, people.
Officers have scouted for surveillance cameras on buildings in town and spent the week scanning video for clues. Thursday marked a week since Harrelson disappeared. With few le and no of his whereabouts, the search for the missing boy continues. Police, family, friends and neighbors say it is out of the ordinary for Harrelson to be gone from home overnight with no contact, and authorities consider him to be endangered. Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the DCI, told the Des Moines Register that detectives have not found any evidence of foul play in Harrelson's disappearance.
It could have been a horrible accident. We just don't know yet. We're not ruling anything out. Mortvedt said authorities were told the boy was last seen the morning of May 27 near the mobile home park where he lives with his mother on the northwest side of town, so that's where detectives began their search.
Family, friends and neighbors have been interviewed, along with anyone who is close with Harrelson or those who might have had last contact with him, Mortvedt said. By Saturday, authorities expanded the search to other neighborhoods, homes and grassy and wooded areas around town, Mortvedt said. Detectives searched Montezuma's Diamond Lake Park — which is less than a mile from where Harrelson lives — with two dive teams.
Airplanes, drones, all-terrain vehicles, horses and dogs have been used in the search, too, he said. Flyers with the boy's face and description have been posted all over the city. And on Sunday, Harrelson's 11th birthday, hundreds of volunteers searched throughout town for him. The search for Harrelson has been reminiscent of the search for Mollie Tibbetts, a year-old University of Iowa student who disappeared while out for a jog and was later found dead in rural Poweshiek County — the same county where Montezuma is located — in July Tibbetts' hometown of Brooklyn is about 20 miles northeast of Montezuma.
The day after Harrelson was reported missing, the suspect in Tibbetts' killing, Cristhian Bahena Revera, 26, was convicted of first-degree murder in a high-profile, televised trial. Hopefully, we can find Harrelson and bring him back home," Mortvedt said. Harrelson is described as 4 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a red shirt, blue pajama pants and black high-top shoes when he disappeared, according to police.
An Amber Alert was not issued after Harrelson's disappearance because it hasn't been determined to be a criminal incident, Mortvedt said. The windows of the trailer where Harrelson and his mother live are boarded up with cardboard and other items. A friend of his mother, Samantha Rix, 34, of Montezuma said she hasn't heard from her in days. No one answered a Register reporter's knock on the door Wednesday afternoon. TV station news crews swarmed the neighborhood, and a handful of children were playing around the mobile home park, some riding bikes, just as Harrelson loved to do.
Members of Harrelson's family whom the Register reached via phone declined to comment on his disappearance, saying they wanted to focus their efforts on searching for him. For Rix and other community members who have been searching for Harrelson, the days since he went missing have been "absolutely insane" and frustrating, she said. Rix was the one who called police last week. She said Harrelson's mother had asked her to help find Harrelson, but his mother didn't want to call the police herself. Rix yelled Harrelson's name throughout the mobile home park and went door to door, asking about him, she said.
Rix met Harrelson's mother about five years ago through a landlord. They had become friends, as did Harrelson and Rix's 6-year-old son, Kyle Peerenboom. Rix said Harrelson is like a nephew to her. Rix described Harrelson as "joyous," "remarkable" and "loving," and said he always has a smile on his face, his dimples shining. And, he's a helper: His mother has a prosthetic leg, Rix said, and Harrelson has acted as her caregiver at times.
Harrelson's kindness and his willingness to help others make Rix fearful that he would be susceptible to danger from strangers. If someone had stopped Harrelson on the street to ask for his help, he'd say yes, she said.
Rix's son, Kyle, added that Harrelson's kindness is one of his favorite things about his friend. He makes people smile a lot. I like everything about him," Kyle Peerenboom said, his mother smiling beside him. Rix said she feels helpless as the search for Harrelson continues. The boy isn't one to wander, and he knew his boundaries, she said. Never," she said. But she isn't going to stop looking for Harrelson and making his name and face known to others.
She plans to post more flyers at local businesses, to make buttons and to put up orange ribbons all over town. Harrelson wore a lot of orange, she said. Andrea Sahouri covers social justice for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted byat asahouri registermedia. Facebook Twitter. No 'tipping point' in search for Montezuma boy, now missing a week: Search continues as friends' worries deepen.
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