Gabriel Johnson Investigation Turns from Missing Baby to Murder

(Personal Photo)
(Personal Photo)
(Facebook Photo)
(Facebook Photo)
SAN ANTONIO (CBS/AP) Did Elizabeth Johnson give her 8-month-old baby, Gabriel Johnson, to strangers, as she told CBS News affiliate KPHO, or murder him and dump his body in a trash bin, as she reportedly told the boy's father?

Photo: Gabriel Johnson.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

More than one month after the boy went missing, San Antonio police are accepting that the grim reality might be murder. They announced Saturday that they are shifting their investigation from a missing person case to kidnapping and homicide.

Photo: Elizabeth Johnson with her son, Gabriel.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

Police Chief William McManus said officers will search a landfill for the toddler's body once weather permits, adding that he still hopes authorities will find the boy alive.

Gabriel was last seen Dec. 26 in San Antonio with his mother, 23-year-old Elizabeth Johnson. She was arrested Dec. 30 in Florida and has been charged in Arizona with kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference.

Gabriel's father, Logan McQueary of Tempe, Ariz., told The Associated Press that he was disappointed that police were treating the case as a homicide.

Photo: Logan McQueary with his son, Gabriel Johnson.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

The case drew national attention when McQueary pleaded for his son's safe return on national TV.

"We think Gabriel is out there and alive," he said Saturday.

McManus said McQueary arrived in San Antonio on Friday night and has met with local authorities. McQueary and Johnson were in the middle of a custody dispute when Johnson left Tempe with the baby Dec. 18.

Photo: Gabriel Johnson.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

Authorities said Johnson and her baby were in San Antonio Dec. 20-27 and spent time in two hotels. Authorities say that on Dec. 27, Johnson was seen boarding a bus to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but Gabriel wasn't with her.

Johnson has refused to say where the baby is, but reportedly told Gabriel's father she killed him and threw his body in a trash bin. But in a phone interview with CBS affiliate KPHO, Johnson said she gave Gabriel to a couple she didn't know at a San Antonio park, and claimed that she only said she killed the child to get back at McQueary.

Peg Mulloy, a spokeswoman for Arizona-based Republic Services Inc., which owns the 1,000-acre landfill that police plan to search, told the San Antonio Express-News that part of it has been blocked off since authorities contacted the waste management company.

McManus said police had been planning "for a long time" to search the site but rainy weather had caused delays.

"Logistics make it hard," he said. "We've been working with contractors, and worrying about toxic runoff associated with landfills. And, the weather hasn't been cooperating. We're expecting more rain in the next couple days."

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (210) 225-6741 or Tempe Police Department at (480) 350-8311.

PICTURES: Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing

January 27, 2010 - Can Father's Love and GPS Find Missing Baby Gabriel Johnson?
January 19, 2010 - Missing Baby Gabriel Johnson: Do Disturbing New Photos Show Baby's Last Day Alive?
January 13, 2010 - Did Elizabeth Johnson Sell Missing Son Gabriel Johnson, Kill Him, or Just Give Him Away?
January 11, 2010 - Couple Who Hoped to Adopt Ariz. Baby Took Lie Detector Test
January 11, 2010 - Did Elizabeth Johnson Give Her Baby to Strangers? Arizona Mom Faces Kidnapping, Child Abuse Charges
January 8, 2010 - Couple Who Hoped to Adopt Baby Gabriel Johnson Now "Persons of Interest" In His Disappearance
January 6, 2010 - Arizona Baby Gabriel Johnson Missing After Road Trip; Mom Refuses to Help Police