CAMDEN, N.J. – As police resumed a search for three boys missing for more than a day and a half, weary relatives clung to hope Friday that the youngsters would be found alive.
"We're trying to be as positive as possible," said Maria Luna, 19, a cousin of one boy. "We're trying not to think of anything negative. We will find them and when we find them, they will be safe."
Police began another intense hunt Friday morning after scaling back their overnight search for Jesstin Pagan, 5; Daniel Agosto, 6; and Anibal Cruz, 11. The boys disappeared Wednesday afternoon from the yard next to Cruz's home.
Elba Cruz, Anibal's mother, said she was watching the boys play in the yard when she went inside for a few minutes. When she returned, the boys were gone.
By Friday, many of the relatives had been sleepless for 48 hours.
"Anything could happen. They could be in a house somewhere. Somebody might be detaining them in the area," said Mario Rivera, an uncle of Cruz.
A police dog tracked a scent taken from clothing belonging to one of the boys to an overgrown wooded area along the Delaware River (search), a half-dozen blocks from the Cruz home, Camden Police Lt. Mike Lynch said.
The dog led police along a meandering path that eventually led to the river, but there was no sign of the children. Lynch said the dog may have been tricked by similar odors, or could have followed a path one of the boys had taken days earlier.
Lynch said late Thursday that officials considered the boys missing, but had not ruled out the possibility they had been abducted. During a news conference, he asked for residents to "be good eyes and ears."
"When you're talking about tender age children like that, it strikes a chord with anybody," he said.
Last fall, Camden (search) was ranked the most dangerous city in the United States in a reference book that compares crime statistics.