crimesider

Missing Detroit boy found alive as father appears on TV

Charlie Bothuell V CBS Detroit

DETROIT - A 12-year-old boy who was reported missing a week and a half ago and was the subject of an extensive police search was found safe Wednesday in the basement of his Detroit home, at the same time his father appeared live on air with television journalist Nancy Grace.

"We're getting reports that your son has been found - in your basement," Grace told the boy's father, Charlie Bothuell IV, who was appearing on HLN live via satellite.

The father, who appeared to be shocked, stared, wide-eyed in silence before taking deep breaths and then saying, "What?!"

"Yeah, we are getting reports that your son has been found alive in your basement," Grace responded.

"What?!," Bothuell shrieked.

"Yeah, we are getting that right now. How could your son be alive in your basement?," Grace pressed.

"I have no idea," the father, who appeared to be in disbelief and searching for words said, before gasping for air and putting his head in his hands.

Officers discovered the boy while serving a search warrant on the home as part of their investigation into his disappearance. It's not clear if the boy had been there the entire time; officers had been inside the home before and cadaver dogs searched the house last week.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said when police found the child, Charlie Bothuell V, he appeared to be hiding and did not announce himself. Hours earlier, Craig had told reporters that investigators were "not ruling out the possibility of homicide" in the case.

When police found the boy, he was behind some boxes and a large plastic drum. Bedding also was found nearby.

"He was nervous, but excited," Craig said. "He indicated he was hungry. He appeared fine."

Detroit Police Officer Nicole Kirkwood told CBS News' Crimesider on Thursday that the boy was not barricaded or restrained when he was found. She also said "cereal and soda pop" was found nearby.

She told Crimesider the 12-year-old was reported missing on the morning of June 15 by his stepmother, who said he was last seen at approximately 9 p.m. the previously night on the 1300 block of Nicolet in Detroit, where the boy lives with stepmother and father. The father said he was as surprised as anyone that his son was in the basement.

"I checked my basement, the FBI checked my basement, the Detroit police checked my basement, my wife checked my basement," Bothuell IV told Nancy Grace just moments after hearing the news that his son was found.

When asked whether it was possible that the boy had been in the basement the entire time he was missing, Officer Kirkwood told Crimesider, "Anything is possible."

The elder Bothuell was swarmed by reporters outside the house when he arrived home Wednesday evening.

"I thought my son was dead," he said as he broke down in tears and hugged a reporter.

"So to say that, um, you know...for anybody to imply that I somehow knew my son was in the basement, it's absurd," he said.

As police had searched for any sign of the child's whereabouts, Bothuell IV and his wife Monique, said they felt like they were being treated like suspects despite the fact they were cooperating with investigators.

Police Chief Craig told reporters earlier Wednesday that the boy's father had taken a polygraph test about his son's disappearance, but the boy's stepmother declined to do so.

The 12-year-old was with his mother at a local hospital Thursday morning, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody told CBS Detroit, adding that the child underwent a medical evaluation and was found to be OK.

Woody also reportedly said that police are still trying to determine whether the child had been hiding all along or whether he had been anywhere else during the time he was missing.

The station reports the police sergeant also said that police found a PVC pipe and blood in the family's home and that authorities are testing the blood to see whose it is.

"That evidence is still very much in play," Woody said, adding that although no charges had been filed in the case, the child's mother, father and stepmother are being investigated, reports the station.

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    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

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