UPDATE: Authorities still searching for missing Houston boy early Wednesday morning

Telegraph staffMay 8, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Authorities and community members continued to search early Wednesday for a 10-year-old boy reported missing from Russell Elementary School at about noon Tuesday.

The fifth-grader was identified as Kit Colburn, described as a white male, with brown hair and brown eyes, standing 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 70 pounds, a Warner Robins police news release stated. He was last seen wearing a tan, off-white shirt with a design and blue or khaki shorts, possibly denim.

The child was reported missing at 12:19 p.m. Tuesday from the school, said Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police.

Pugh said authorities were committed to searching overnight. The boy was still missing at 7:30 a.m., according to the latest Twitter report from police.

Volunteers are asked to gather at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the former Food Max parking lot at 814 Russell Parkway.

“We’re going to keep searching until we find him,” Pugh said.

Police were still treating the search as a runaway case.

“At this point, we have no reason to believe that any foul play is involved,” Pugh said.

Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen was among those driving around searching for the boy.

“We need to pray that we find him safe,” Shaheen said. “We just need to take measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Code Red alerts from Houston County’s 911 system was issued for the missing child. The alerts were sent to phones of residents who have signed up for the emergency alert service.

A small crowd had gathered outside of the child’s Cathy Court home Tuesday evening.

A neighbor, Ashlee Crum, said her daughter, a first-grader at Russell Elementary, rides the same bus as Colburn.

The first-grader said she remembered seeing the boy on the bus Tuesday morning.

Crum had heard about the missing child throughout the day, but did not realize the boy was from her neighborhood until she arrived home from work to find police and emergency vehicles on the street.

“I couldn’t imagine if it was my little girl,” Crum said. “I would be devastated. I can’t imagine what the parents are going through.”

Pugh encouraged people who know the child or anything about him to call 911. Even if it seems insignificant, any information could be useful in the search, she said.

Authorities have searched the child’s home and are checking parks and other places kids frequent, Pugh said.

The child was also placed on the National Crime Information Center Database as a runaway, which notifies other jurisdictions of the case, though Pugh said authorities don’t believe the boy is that far away.

A detective with the Warner Robins Police Department criminal investigations unit has been assigned to lead the search, which Pugh said is common practice any time a case reaches this magnitude.

A Georgia State Patrol helicopter and police dogs, including bloodhounds, are being used in the search. Also, the Georgia National Guard loaned night vision equipment to search crews, Pugh said.

Pugh said while the community assistance was appreciated, authorities are asking citizens to stay off the trails so not to interfere with the search dogs’ scent detection.

At the police command post at the old FoodMax, dozens of volunteers also showed up to lend a hand. Warner Robins Police, Warner Robins Fire, Houston County Fire and Georgia State Patrol were all on the scene as fliers with the boy’s picture and description were distributed.

At one point Tuesday night, police set up a roadblock on Kimberly Road -- stopping motorists to give them information and showing occupants a photo of the child.

Warner Robins police will continue posting updates to their department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts on the hour, even if just to say they have no new news, Pugh said.

Sharon Adams brought her sons Keagan and Kaleb to join the search. Kaleb, a classmate of Colburn’s, did not attend school Tuesday but was adamant that the family help search for his fellow fifth-grader, she said.

“We think he may be hiding because now he thinks he’s going to be in a lot of trouble,” Sharon Adams said.

Houston County school Superintendent Robin Hines said the boy was sent to the principal’s office during the school day but never arrived.

Keith Lauritsen, school principal, called police when they realized the boy was missing, said Beth McLaughlin, school spokesman.

Fifth-graders are housed in a separate wing of the school building but school officials were not sure where Colburn exited the school.

Lauritsen spent hours out looking for the child, McLaughlin said.

“We’re doing everything we can to find this child,” McLaughlin said.

District officials were not sure what time the child was sent to the office, said Linda Horne, assistant superintendent for school operations.

According to a 911 operator, Colburn could have been missing two to three hours before the call was placed, Pugh said.

Authorities have received several tips, but none have been substantiated, Pugh said.

Police officers were in and out of the school building as school dismissed in normal fashion.

“We want to keep everything as normal as possible for the other children,” Horne said.

Parents picking up their children from the school said they had been notified about the occurrence by an automated phone call from the district.

Brenda Mathis, who waited outside to pick up her fifth and second grade sons Tuesday, said school officials assured parents there was never anyone in the school who was not supposed to be there and that the child left willingly. Nonetheless, the idea of a missing child is still scary, she said.

Anyone with information about the juvenile’s whereabouts is asked to contact 911 immediately.

To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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