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Seen At 11: Four Years Later Search For Missing Boy, Patrick Alford, May Be Heating Up

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- A seven-year-old boy disappeared never to be heard from again but his family refused to stop looking for him.

Now, four years after the boy vanished the NYPD said that the case is heating up.

For Jennifer Rodriguez the pain of her son Patrick Alford's disappearance still sears.

"I pray that Patrick is out there somewhere. I just want my son back," she told CBS 2's Maurice Dubois, "I think about my son every day. There's not one day or one moment I don't go without thinking about my son."

Rodriguez had struggled with substance abuse and Patrick was placed with a foster family at the Spring Creek Towers in Brooklyn.

On January 22, 2010, the boy was with his foster-mother in a hallway taking out the garbage. When she turned to go back to the apartment Patrick was gone, police said.

The police response was massive and immediate. Cops flooded the area and searched streets and nearby marshes on horseback, on foot, by air, and with dogs.

Lieutenant Christopher Zimmerman has been on the case since day one. he said the first hours are crucial.

"You're gonna respond pedal to the metal, you're 100 percent," he said, "You understand time is of the essence."

Lead after lead went nowhere but four years later the NYPD said that the effort to find Patrick has not wavered.

"There's no such thing as running out of things to do. You will reinterview people, you will go back to certain areas because every day information changes," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman has a son the same age as Patrick. For him the case is personal.

"It strikes an emotional chord. It absolutely strikes an emotional chord as if he's related to me," Zimmerman said, "What would I want done if I was his father?"

Now, Zimmerman said that there is reason for hope.

"Without getting too detailed we are making progress," he said.

Rodriguez is heartened by the news and believes that Patrick will come home.

"I'm never gonna give up on my son, ever," she said.

Neither will the NYPD. Patrick would be 11-years-old now, over the years police have done 14,000 interviews and searched more than 9,000 apartments. There is a $12,000 reward for information leading to Patrick's discovery.

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