Police and volunteers are now well into the fifth day since Robbie Wood Jr. disappeared while on a hike with his family in Virginia on Sunday afternoon.
The boy autistic, and the local sheriff described his ability as restricting.
‘This is a nine year old autistic child that has extremely limited communication skills and absolutely no awareness of safety concerns,’ Hanover County Sheriff David Hines.
When the sheriff held his press conference, it was Tuesday morning, and he described officials as being ‘confident’ that they would find Robbie. Two days later, no such remarks have been made.
Robbie was last seen while on a hike in the North Anna Battlefield Park with his father, brother and another woman. At one point as the group headed along a trail towards the North Anna River, they noticed that Robbie was no longer with them, and they immediately notified the sheriff’s office.
With the disappearance of baby Lisa Irwin in Missouri, a case where the parents came under fire, Mr Hines was quick to rule that out in this incident.
‘We should not forget Robert’s family who have been here with us since Sunday.They have fully cooperated with all of our inquiries- any suggestion otherwise is simply not true,’ he said.
The first step in the investigation was to call out the local bloodhound canine squad, who did smell Robbie’s scent in the park. Though that did not lead to any immediate conclusion, officials saw it as a good thing, and proclaimed that ‘our confidence is high’ as a result.
One of Robbie’s teachers at an autism-specific school, Ashlea Krouse, said that they do need to keep expanding their efforts.
‘He doesn’t usually sit still, even in the classroom,’ Ms Krouse said.
‘I’d imagine he’d be on the move the entire time unless he is injured,’ she continued.
Ms Krouse said that his is unable to communicate with words, but he is far from quiet, often making plenty of noise in class. That said, she did not think he would respond if he heard his named called out by someone looking for him.
On Wednesday, a staggering 1,500 local citizen volunteers joined the search in the coming days, joining the 300 professionals already working on the case.
All volunteers participated in a 30 minute training program before heading out to search designated areas. They are supposedly using a ‘basket search’ strategy, meaning police officials searched the park from one direction and then they arranged for the volunteers to search from the other direction, hoping to catch any overlooked clues.
Police had to keep 300 volunteers in additional training as they are only capable of handling a crowd of 1,200.
The volunteers ranged from people with personal connections to the family to those who simply were moved by the story.
One woman, named Glenda, said that she volunteered because she was a friend of the woman who drove Robbie back and forth to school. Because her friend had to work, Glenda arranged for a substitute to teach her class in the neighbouring school district to cover for her so that she could help.
‘He is a busy little boy and I hope we run across him,’ Glenda told a local blog.
Another volunteer, William Webb, drove nearly an hour from Richmond, Virginia to ‘be part of this great cause’.
In spite of the increased patrol area and the huge manpower presence, no further clues have been reported. Police officials say that the family is ‘understandably upset’.
Like everyone here you today, our hearts are burdened with the reality that a nine year old boy has been alone in the woods for the past 48 hours,’ Mr Hines said on Tuesday.
‘I can assure you that everyone tasked in this effort has and will continue to work tirelessly until Robert is located.’
HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has just confirmed that missing eight-year-old, Robert Wood, Jr., has been found alive.
Below, we’ve posted a closed-captioning transcript of Friday afternoon’s press briefing from the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the update from VCU Medical Center.
Crews on the scene say Robert was discovered just west of the quarry, around 2:00 p.m. Friday. That’s not far from the North Anna Battlefield Park where search teams have been looking since Sunday afternoon. According to the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, the location is approximately three quarters to a mile from the location where Robert was last seen.
Sheriff David Hines described Robert’s condition as, “serious, but in good shape.” Hines said Robert was found lying down in a creek bed by a citizen volunteer.
We’ve confirmed Robert has been flown to VCU Medical Center. Doctors there say Robert is doing “remarkably well.”
At VCU Medical Center, Robert is being treated for scrapes, bruises and dehydration. Robert’s parents are there with him at the hospital. They released brief statements to the media about their son. These statements can be read in full below. For now, the family is not speaking directly to the media. They are spending time with Robert.
During a press conference Friday, the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office thanked the more than 6,000 volunteers who helped look for Robert, including people from as far away as Alaska. Friday, more than 800 volunteers turned out to help look for Robert on day six of the search.
Since Robert has been found alive, the Doswell Community Center has decided to host a candlelight celebration event at 7:30 p.m. Friday. That’s located off Highway 1. Organizers are saying everyone is welcome.
Statement from Robert’s mother, Barbara Locker:
“He is here and safe. Thank you for your prayers, your thoughts. Thank you for searching. He is a strong little fella. At this time, my family thanks you for respecting our privacy.”
Statement from Robert’s father, Robert Wood, Sr.:
“On behalf of the family of Robbie Wood I would like to extend our greatest gratitude to all who have had us in your thoughts and prayers, to all volunteers who have donated, time, effort, and other valuable resources, and Finally to our local, state , and federal, law enforcement, fire, and rescue. These people are truly professionals and we have no doubt in our minds that the best of the best are out here looking for Robert.
The support we have received is overwhelming, and we wish we name everyone the list is just too great, but please know we know who you are!
I would like to thank the news media for its continued coverage, As well as its respect for our privacy.
Robert is a very strong and determined little boy. We never gave up hope that he would return home safe. The family has been here every hour and been involved in the search 200 percent.
Thank you so much everybody… Robert Is home!”