AMBER Alert boy Raul Johnson remains missing as search turns to investigation; FBI now involved

The search for a 4-year-old North Carolina boy continues into its third day. Investigators initially thought the boy wandered off, but with no sign of him, they are now shifting towards an investigation case.

The News & Observer reports that Raul Johnson was last seen on Weds., walking barefoot  down Village Drive toward Crestline Road in Laurinburg, at around 11:30 a.m. Since then, there has been no sign of the little boy. Although no foul play is suspected at this time, divers didn’t find Raul in local ponds and canals. Cadaver dogs followed his scent three miles away to a barn, but nothing was amiss.

“At this moment, nothing has been found in interviews with family, neighbors (or other information) to indicate that we’re dealing with foul play,” Scotland County Sheriff Ralph E. Kersey said. “By faith I believe the little boy is still alive and that’s what I have to stand on.”

According to The Laurinburg Exchange, Detective Sgt. Jessica Sadovnikov with the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office indicated that she’s dealt with the family on numerous occasions in the past. She said Raul didn’t seem the type of boy who would stray too far from home.

Raul Johnson [Photo: Family Handout]
“He is not the type of child to just walk off the property and walk four miles down the road where our dogs hit,” Sadovnikov said. “Based on my training experience and interactions with this child, I don’t think he would have ever gone that far alone, there’s no way.”

Sadovnikov didn’t explain the details on why she’s dealt with the family in the past, but court records indicate Raul’s biological father, Carlos Gonzales, is currently on a detainer hold by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after a Sept. 2017 arrest for seven child molestation charges, including sex assault and indecent liberties with a 6-year-old. The boy’s mother, Annie L. Johnson, 36, was also arrested, but the charges against her were later dropped.

At the time of his disappearance, Raul’s grandfather was watching him and his 6-year-old sister while the children’s mother worked. An elderly neighbor who gives the boy cookies and snacks every morning said he walked over to her house as usual on Weds., then left at around 11:30 a.m. The neighbor reportedly said that Raul was quiet on Weds. morning and didn’t speak a word to her, which was unusual, according to Sadovnikov.

“(Woman) said this morning was unusual because he knocked on the door and didn’t speak to her, which is very uncommon for him,” Sadovnikov stated.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Raul stands 3 feet tall and weighs around 38 pounds. He was last seen wearing an striped orange shirt and white pajama pants with rocket ship designs on them. He has black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with any information on Raul’s whereabouts should contact 911 or the  Scotland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-276-3385.

[Feature Photo: Raul Johnson/NCDPS]