Police worried family ‘sold’ missing disabled 6-year-old boy before fleeing country

File: Law enforcement agents walk in the parking lot of a shopping mall, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, in El Paso, Texas (AP)
File: Law enforcement agents walk in the parking lot of a shopping mall, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, in El Paso, Texas (AP)

Police in Texas are concerned a missing disabled child may have been sold before his mother and siblings fled the US.

Noel Rodriguez-Alvarez, age 6, of the Fort Worth suburb of Everman, was reported missing on 20 March, with police saying they couldn’t confirm he had been seen any time after November of 2022.

"This is a rumor that we have heard and we have no evidence to support this rumor...that this child may have been sold," Everman police chief Craig Spencer said on Monday, CBS Texas reports. "We know how this goes with social media, I don’t want to sit here and speculate that the child is deceased but it is a distinct possibility that the child has been sold and if that’s the case, then your attention to this ... is highly important here. He could be anywhere. It’s hard to speculate whether he’s dead or alive, to be quite honest with you."

Police are currently analysing documents found in the boy’s home, a converted shed, and a family vehicle to put together a timeline of his whereabouts.

"It is swinging more to a criminal investigation," Chief Spencer said on Tuesday. "The circumstantial evidence is certainly building up to a level where it becomes criminal."

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are assisting with the investigation, Fox4 reports. An Amber Alert for the child was issued on Saturday, 25 March, which was then cancelled and changed to an endangered missing person alert.

At a news conference on Sunday, Everman police said they changed the alert after they found Noel’s whole family, including mother Cindy Rodriguez-Singh, stepdad and multiple siblings, left Texas on a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul on 23 March.

A visa found in truck belonging to Rodriguez-Singh suggested the family was bound for India, according to police.

Police have described Rodriguez-Alvarez as severely disabled.

“We currently do not have any physical evidence on Noel’s status as a missing person,” police said at the conference. “What we do know is that we have a six-year-old disabled boy… that is missing and that the mother is not willing to cooperate… to ensure the child is safe.”

Noel has multiple serious disabilities and chronic lung disease that require medical treatment and occasional oxygen treatment, police said.

Police said they first received information through an anonymous tip on 20 March that family members have not seen Noel since November 2022.

On 23 March, Child Protective Investigations got in touch with police to inform them that Noel’s family members are still concerned about his whereabouts.

Since then, some family members claim they have seen Noel, but Chief Spencer said during a news conference on Tuesday he believes they may not be being truthful.

“There’s a lot of holes within the answers that we’ve been getting as part of this investigation that we’ve just got to continue to fill,” he said, the Fort Wort Star-Telegram reports. “So I’m just not ready to speculate just yet on what I think happened to Noel. I am still very optimistic.”

Last week, following up on tips from family members, police conducted a welfare check on the child.

His mother told the police he was with his father in Mexico, but Child Protective Services determined this was false, CBS Texas reports. The boy’s father has reportedly been assisting police with their search.

Police revealed that Noel’s stepfather is an immigrant from India and they are trying to determine the final destination of the flight which could also be India.

Everman Emergency Services said in a Facebook update on Sunday evening that they found a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado that his mother was seen driving and could be linked to Noel’s disappearance.

“Noel is still missing!” the update said. “Please help us find him!”