A mum who identified a police sketch of an unknown murder victim as her own son sparked a manhunt – only to find that the boy was very much alive and on a camping trip with his dad.
The body of an eight-year-old boy was found near the town of Mountain Springs on Route 160, a main highway leading out of Las Vegas, Nevada.
State police issued a drawing of the lad, and on seeing it the mother of Daniel Cisneros contacted them claiming that the dead boy was her son.
She was shown photos of the body by the Clark County coroner and made a “positive identification”, according to police lieutenant Ray Spencer.
The woman told police that the boy’s father Jose Montes-Herrera, 37, had taken Daniel and his older brother Eden, 11, on a camping trip.
An immediate manhunt was launched and a press conference was hastily arranged to ask for the public’s help in tracking down the missing man and his son.
But Daniel was very much alive. Jose and his two sons had just been camping in a remote part of Utah with no mobile phone service.
It was only later, when he drove to higher ground, that Jose's mobile began buzzing with voicemails from concerned friends and relatives.
He told the Las Vegas Review Journal that were dozens of them, all asking: “‘Are you OK? Are the kids OK? Did you really do this? What about the kids?”
More than one message urged Jose to turn himself in, he said.
“Everybody you can think of — family, friends,” he said “It was about a hundred messages at once.”
He tried to call the boys’ mothers to tell them not to worry, but as soon as police learned his location they swooped.
“By the time I turned around I had about 100 to 150 cops surround me,” he said.
“Took off my shirt, my socks,” he added. “It was embarrassing. Two of the officers, they snatch my kids and start running with them.”
Now Jose, who is in the middle of a custody battle with the boys’ mother, has demanded a public apology after being accused of murdering his own son.
“It breaks my heart to know that I was accused of hurting my son,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I was out camping and in the period of the 12 hours I didn’t have service. I was shocked that people would think I would hurt my son knowing I do everything for them.”
“I deserve a public apology for what I went through,” he added.
Speaking in defence of the police, and of Daniel’s mother, Lieutenant Spencer said: ”There is a very, very close resemblance when you look at those photos, the autopsy photos, and the 8-year-old child.”
The murder victim remains unidentified.
Jose wrote on Facebook: “As for the little kid that is really dead my prayers are out for that family I hope they find peace… and the [real killer].”
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