FBI joins AMBER Alert search for missing NC boy; authorities draining pond

LAURINBURG, N.C. (WNCN/WBTW) – The FBI is on scene and officials are draining a pond as the search for a missing 4-year-old boy who’s the subject of an AMBER Alert in Scotland County continues.

Divers had searched the pond about 800 yards from the boy’s home Thursday, after dogs led investigators there, but Sheriff Ralph Kersey said he didn’t want any lingering doubts.

“Not questioning anything that’s been done today, right at this moment, I’m going to drain the pond,” he said.

CLICK HERE for more photos from the search

An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday evening for Raul Johnson – who stands around 3 feet tall and weighs 38 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.

It’s standard protocol for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to contact local officials when a child stays missing for more than 24 hours, Kersey said. He said that at this point, he’s not turning away any assistance.

The 4-year-old’s mother, Annie Johnson said she was at work when her father called her at 11 a.m. Wednesday and told her Raul went missing.

“I told him to call 911,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I thought maybe he was just hiding because he likes to hide, but he never stays gone this long he always comes back. If I holler for him he comes back and this time he didn’t come back.”

Scotland County officers said they began searching for the 4-year-old around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The boy was last seen wearing a white and orange tiger-striped shirt with tigers on it and white pants with rocket ships printed on them. Authorities have said he was last seen walking on Village Drive towards Crestline Road in Laurinburg.

Kersey said more than 200 people went out searching for the boy Thursday.

“We’ve about covered all the areas that we thought that him being the age of four years old could travel barefoot, and we haven’t left any rock unoverturned,” he said.

He also confirmed Thursday afternoon that the case is still a missing persons case and but investigators have not ruled out any circumstances.

“There is nothing we have found with interviews with family members, next door neighbors or information from the public that would indicate foul play,” Kersey said.

The child has wandered off before, Kersey said. Johnson was missing for about 25 minutes Tuesday morning and was found by the grandfather.

“I just don’t know if somebody took him or if he’s lost in the woods or if something happened to him in the water,” the child’s mother said. “I don’t know, I just want him home.”

The sheriff says his faith allows him to continue to believe the boy is alive.

“By faith, I believe the little boy is still alive, and that’s what I have to stand on, not allow the Adversary to plant doubt in your mind,” he said.

If you have any information regarding this abduction, call the Scotland County Sheriff`s Office immediately at (910) 276-3385, or call 911 or *HP.

Kersey said that information from the public is critical, and the people with the information might not realize it’s value. He urged anyone who knows anything, however minor, to call in.

“Information from folks is critical,” he said. “If he didn’t wander off, then someone out there knows something.”

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