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12-Year-Old Detroit Boy, Feared Dead, Found Alive in Family Basement After 11 Days

CHARLIE-BOTHUELLIn a strange but ultimately happy story in Detroit, a 12-year-old African-American boy who had been missing for 11 days — and who police feared had been killed — was found unharmed in the family basement, where he was hiding.

Because police don’t believe Charlie Bothuell could have lifted the heavy items to create the makeshift barrier he was hiding behind, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the child’s parents “have a lot of questions to answer.”

Only hours before the boy was discovered, police told reporters he possibly had been killed.

During a press conference outside the townhouse to announce the child had been found, Craig said the child had been placed in protective custody. But in the middle of the chief’s press conference, the boy’s father, Charlie Bothuell IV, halted an interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace show to interrupt the chief and insist he didn’t know his son had been hiding in the basement.

“I searched. My wife searched. The police searched,” the father said. “Any intimation that I knew he was there is absurd. I’m a nurse. I take care of people.”

The Detroit boy was last seen June 14, after which Detroit police detectives and FBI investigators searched the townhouse in the 1300 block of Nicolet Place four times since Charlie went missing, according to the chief.

“There were cadaver dogs, and it seems to me they would have picked up on it if he was in the basement when they searched,” Craig said.

But Craig went on to say the boy likely couldn’t have gotten into the hiding place alone. The chief said he was crouched behind a heavy drum and “the investigators had to move lots of boxes that were stacked up; if he did it by himself, how does that happen? Is it impossible? Maybe not, but it doesn’t appear he could have done it alone.

“All I know is, he was really excited to see us. One could interpret something from that.”

While Craig said he’s not sure where Charlie’s stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, is, the child’s father said police told his wife to leave the area.

“The FBI … forced my wife to leave,” Bothuell said.

But Craig said that didn’t make sense.

“I don’t know why he’s asserting the FBI said she had to leave. Seems to me they would’ve asked her to stand by,” he said. “That’s him talking.”

Craig said the boy “won’t be put back into the home until we finish our investigation.”

“I didn’t see any signs of abuse, but the child protective people will certainly look for that,” the chief said.

The boy’s father said the child got into an argument with his stepmother before saying he was going to use the bathroom — and that was the last time Bothuell said he saw him.

When the father took a lie-detector test, he for some reason insisted it be administered by the FBI and not Detroit police. The results were inconclusive, while the stepmother has refused to take a lie-detector test, Craig said.

“I want to take (another lie-detector test) with the media,” Bothuell said. “I want my name cleared, and my family name cleared.”

Asked whether his son could have moved the heavy barrel to access the hiding place by himself, Bothuell said, “Have you seen the pictures of my son?”

“I want to talk to my son,” Bothuell said, breaking into tears. “He needs some intervention. He needs a whole lot of help at this point.”

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