UPDATE, September 23:
DNA testing confirms that the remains found in July belong to missing boy Robert Bee, Jr.
Read the full story here: BREAKING: Remains found in search for Robert Bee Jr. belong to missing boy
UPDATE, July 24:
Skeletal remains have been found in Pekin, Illinois, and the Tazewell County Coroner has confirmed to CrimeOnline that the remains are consistent with a 13-year-old boy.
It’s been four months since 13-year-old Robert Bee, Jr. disappeared from his Pekin, Illinois home, and police are still searching for the boy — while the boy’s mother is behaving unusually for a parent of a missing child.
Rumors that the body of a child was found in Peoria, Illinois, this past weekend are unfounded, according to members of both the Pekin and Peoria police departments.
Over the last several days, Crime Online received multiple tips that the body of a child had been found in Peoria, accompanied by speculation that it may have belonged to the missing teen.
A spokesperson for the Peoria Police Department denied earlier this week that the body of a child had been found in the city 11 miles north of where Robert Bee, Jr. disappeared in November.
On Friday, the Pekin Police Department’s lead investigator on the missing persons case confirmed the Peoria Police Department’s earlier claim.
“There is no validity” to the rumor that Robert Bee, Jr. may have been found dead, said Pekin Police Detective Seth Ranney.
The little boy — reportedly known to his family as “Bonzai” — was last seen in front of his home in Peking on November 17. Authorities say he ran off as school truancy officers approached him in his front yard. The boy reportedly took medication to control epileptic seizures, but did not have any at the time.
According to a February report in the Pekin Daily Times, a neighbor of Robert’s mother Lisa Bee said that the house the teenager ran from has been abandoned since he disappeared.
“Every night, all the lights go on,” Lee Hutchinson said. “But no one’s there anymore.”
Detective Ranney confirmed to Crime Online that Robert’s mother Lisa Bee no longer lives at the home, which was a rental.
“The landlord went to court and was award the home back,” said Detective Ranney, who said the home is not being treated as a crime scene.
Crime Online exchanged written messages with a woman believed to be Robert’s mother, Lisa Bee, earlier this week. She said in those messages that she had relocated to Springfield, Illinois — over 60 miles south of Pekin — and had recently been to rehab before spending time in a psychiatric ward.
“… just got out of crazy ward,” the woman believed to be Lisa Bee wrote.
She did not respond to multiple questions about her son’s missing persons case, nor did she respond to attempts to engage in a telephone conversation.
Crime Online shared the contents of the message exchange with Detective Ranney, who agreed that the mother’s response to her son’s disappearance had been “highly unusual” since the start. He declined to say whether or not she is being treated as a suspect.
“It’s a unique case and there are a lot of moving parts,” he said.
Detective Ranney also said that the boy’s father, whose name is not known, has died in recent weeks. According to the detective, Robert’s father was significantly older than his mother, and had been living in a nursing home for quite some time, suffering from an unspecified illness. There was nothing suspicious about his death.
The detective said that Robert’s father had been made aware that his son was missing but was not a significant source in the investigation.
As the Pekin Daily Times noted in February, Lisa Bee made multiple posts on Facebook about her missing son in the days after he first disappeared. But her most recent Facebook post was a close-up photo of herself on December 26. Commenters asked about her son, but she did not reply.
The boy’s mother reportedly gave conflicting accounts about the circumstances of Robert’s disappearance, telling reporters at one point that Robert was last seen on November 18, the day after he reportedly ran away from truancy officers.
“His friend walked him to the bus stop and he didn’t get on the bus, he didn’t go to school,” Bee told WMBD-TV.
Detective Ranney told Crime Online that Robert’s missing persons case is a top priority in his department.
“We understand that the public is concerned, and we are, too,” Detective Ranney said.
“We have thousands of man hours on” Robert Bee’s case, he continued. “It’s the type of case where you can’t really divulge much of anything because you don’t know what is important and what’s not.”