Investigators from the San Antonio Police Department will move forward with excavating a section of a landfill to search for possible remains of missing 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson, who was last seen at a motel in that city last month.
San Antonio police Chief Bill McManus announced the plans on Friday for investigators to begin excavating the Tessman Road Landfill sometime next week, according to Sandy Gutierrez, a department police spokeswoman.
Gabriel Johnson was last seen inside a motel room at a HomeGate Studios and Suites on Dec. 26, according to the time stamp on photographs from a digital camera confiscated from Gabriel’s mother, Elizabeth Johnson, who drove to San Antonio with the boy in the midst of a custody battle.
Johnson, 23, of Tempe was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., on Dec. 30 without the child. Her arrest came three days after she told her estranged boyfriend, Logan McQueary, through a text message and cell phone call that she killed Gabriel, stuffed his body in a diaper bag and threw his body in a dumpster, according to a Maricopa County Superior Court document. Johnson later told FBI investigators she gave the baby away to a couple at a park and then later said that she gave Gabriel to a couple inside the motel room before signing adoption papers.
“The chief confirmed and conveyed that an excavation and search will move forward at the Tessman Road Landfill, and more information on how that search and how that process will be conducted will all unfold next week,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said that either information or evidence obtained through the course of the investigation was obtained to make the decision to move forward with the excavation. However, Gutierrez would not be specific.
“We have been at the landfill on and off for about a week,” Gutierrez said.
Earlier this week, managers of the landfill had cordoned off a section of it about two weeks ago that was “an area of interest” to police, a landfill spokeswoman told the Tribune.
Johnson is being held in the Maricopa County Estrella Jail on a $1.1 million cash bond, on felony charges of kidnapping, child abuse, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.
Jack and Tammi Smith, a Scottsdale couple who was interested in adopting Gabriel, remain persons of interest in the case because police believe the Smiths are withholding evidence that could lead them to the whereabouts of the boy.
Up to $5,000 is being offered for the safe return of Gabriel, who will turn 9 months old on Wednesday.
If anyone has any information on the boy’s whereabouts, they can call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.