A picture of Charlie Bothuell V -- the one of him in a buttoned-up, collared shirt and pinstriped suit, smiling at the camera -- was repeatedly issued by Detroit police.
The 12-year-old was missing.
But on Wednesday, Detroit Police Chief James Craig delivered good news: "We have Charlie."
In the course of the day, the case took major turns. In the afternoon, Craig said police weren't ruling out the possibility of a homicide in the child's disappearance. A short time later, Craig announced that police found Charlie, missing since June 14, alive in the basement of his home.
Craig said Charlie was concealed by a makeshift barricade that he said police don't believe the child could have made. He said Charlie was discovered by police as they executed another search warrant on the home in the 1300 block of Nicolet Place.
Craig said Charlie was crouched behind a large container, and there appeared to be food nearby. He said Charlie didn't call out but was happy to see police.
"In 37 years of policing, I will tell you, I've never seen anything quite like this," Craig said. "But the outcome, I couldn't be happier."
The investigation, though, continues.
Craig said that, if through the course of the investigation, it's determined that there was evidence of child abuse, then "our investigation will take a turn in that direction. But at this point, there's a process that must be followed and, certainly, the Wayne County prosecutor is directly involved in this. And, so, once that process is completed, we'll know if any charges will be filed against either or both custodial parents."
Charlie's father, Charlie Bothuell IV, said he was unaware his son was in the basement and said "there was no abuse of my son." He said he was shocked that his son was found in the home.
"For anybody to imply that I somehow knew that my son was in the basement, it's absurd and it's wrong," Bothuell said at the scene. "I love my son. I'm glad that he's home and he's going to have the great future that he deserves to have."
Bothuell broke down sobbing and said: "I want to see my son."
Craig said before the search Wednesday, authorities searched the home several times, including with cadaver dogs. It's uncertain whether Charlie was in the basement the entire time.
"It would be hard for me to sit here and tell you that someone didn't know" Charlie was there, Craig said. "But I can't say definitively."
He said Charlie was being taken for a medical evaluation.
The discovery came shortly after a news conference, where Craig said authorities had not ruled out the possibility of a homicide in the case.
"We've gotten a number of tips, leads and certainly we've gotten evidence in this investigation that suggests that this is more than just a serious missing," he said during the earlier news conference. "We're not ruling out the possibility of a homicide, but we're still treating this case as a serious missing."
Craig said police have had ongoing conversations with Charlie's parents. The child's father submitted to an FBI-administered polygraph test, but Craig said his stepmother declined to take one.
On Tuesday, Bothuell appeared on the "Nancy Grace" cable TV show. He described an exhaustive search that began when he received a call from his wife at about 9:45 p.m. June 14, saying Charlie had left from their home in at about 9 p.m. Bothuell was at his office in Southfield -- he's a registered nurse with his own company -- trying to complete some work so he would have that Sunday, Father's Day, to spend with Charlie, another son, 14, and daughter, 10 months old.
Bothuell said he came home from work and called police. He said the response from a dispatcher was dismissive and disrespectful, and he said it took three calls to actually make the report.
Police showed up sometime around midnight, Bothuell said.
Bothuell said he was asked to take a Detroit police lie detector test but refused, noting that he had been questioned for eight hours by officers and he said they were not truthful when they told him what to expect.
Craig said he's "not aware of any mistreatment by our investigators or any other investigators."
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