California authorities on Thursday continued their desperate search for a special needs toddler who has been missing for over a week—a search made more difficult now that his parents have “stopped cooperating” with investigators.
Thaddeus Sran, 2, was reported missing on July 15 after his parents said he vanished from their home in Madera, about 30 minutes outside Fresno, the City of Madera Police Department said in a statement. His parents told police that they put the toddler to bed around 10 p.m. but when they woke up to check on their son at around 8:30 a.m. the next morning, he was gone.
But while City of Madera Police Chief Dino Lawson called the incident “a parent’s worst nightmare” last week, authorities are now alleging that the couple has not helped in the ongoing search for the 2-year-old.
“Unfortunately, Thaddeus’ parents stopped cooperating early on in the investigation. We believe their assistance, in this case, would be helpful,” the police said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “We are hopeful that they will resume cooperating with Madera Police Department detectives and help us to locate Thaddeus.”
The police department, which did not provide the parents’ names or say if the couple has been accused of any crime, has been extremely tip-lipped about their investigation. Stressing that they “will not stop looking for Thaddeus,” the department declined to give any updates on the case.
According to his missing person’s poster, Thaddeus was last seen wearing a red shirt and Spiderman pants with a diaper underneath. Authorities said an Amber Alert was never issued for the 30-pound child because there was no information about a possible vehicle. Police added that the toddler’s family has offered a $5,000 reward for any information to help find him.
Lawson also revealed last week that the toddler had “severe health issues” after he was born prematurely. He said that Thaddeus, who is non-verbal, uses a feeding tube and is just learning how to walk.
“Everything is on the table and we’re not ruling anything out,” Lawson said about the investigation, adding that authorities are looking into the possibility the toddler’s disappearance was a possible abduction.
Madera Police Lt. Josiah Arnold also revealed to NBC News that the toddler’s parents had another daughter who died in 2015, but declined to provide further details. He added, however, that Thaddeus’ sister’s death was investigated and the case remains open.
On Tuesday evening, dozens of residents who have been helping in the search for Thaddeus, including a group of mothers, hosted a vigil at Courthouse Park with candles, photos, and posters asking for “prayers.” Many attendees wore red and blue, the colors of Thaddeus’ Spiderman pants.
“We just want to bring him home safe and alive,” Sunndeep Sran, Thaddeus’s father’s second cousin, told YourCentralValley. She added that while her children go to school with the toddler’s siblings, she has not spoken to her cousin since March.
“The Sran family appreciates every effort everyone is making,” Sran said. “We know as much as the media, what the police department is saying, so we are all in support of bringing Thaddeus home.”
Lawson said that the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals, and the FBI were aiding in the case. He said authorities were “hopeful” the toddler’s parents “will resume cooperating and come back in and speak with our detectives.”