MIAMI – A 2-year-old boy reported missing nearly three months ago, and whose mother's suicide ignited a controversy involving a cable news talk show host, "could still be alive," police said Wednesday.
Trenton Duckett, who was reported missing Aug. 27 by his mother, Melinda Duckett, may still be alive after a witness reported seeing the boy with his mother hours before his disappearance in Belleview, said Capt. Jimmy Pogue of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
"He could still be alive, and we need people to start looking for him and stop assuming he's passed away and that we're not looking for him," Pogue said.
"They're just going on the same theory I've been going on," said Joshua Duckett, the boy's father. "I'm still 100 percent confident he's alive and well. It's just a matter of finding him."
Investigators have not clearly determined Melinda Duckett's whereabouts in the 24 hours or so before the boy went missing. She initially told police that she found a cut in the boy's bedroom window screen when she checked on him around 9:20 p.m., and that the boy was missing.
Melinda Duckett committed suicide on Sept. 8, and remains the primary suspect, Pogue said.
CNN talk show host Nancy Grace later became embroiled in controversy over Duckett's death when it was suggested that Trenton's mother killed herself after becoming distraught over an appearance on Grace's show.
Police said their witness reported seeing Melinda Duckett with the boy at a restaurant in Belleview on Aug. 27.
"She believes she saw Melinda and the baby during the time that Trenton is unaccounted for," Pogue said.
Pogue cited cell phone evidence that indicates Melinda Duckett was in Marion County just before reporting the boy's disappearance, and that she may have contacted someone who may have information about her son's whereabouts, Pogue said, adding that investigators also are reviewing her financial records.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have joined in the investigation and are treating it as a missing persons case, not a homicide, Pogue said.
"We hope to energize people with positive thinking that Trenton Duckett is alive, which will prompt people all over the nation to be on the look out for him. If perhaps a captor has Trenton and is now afraid, drop him off at a school, firehouse or hospital. It's all about Trenton Duckett —nothing else," Pogue said.