BEAUFORT, Mo. – Among the 220 leads they are pursuing, police are looking for a beat-up white pickup truck that may be linked to the disappearance of 13-year-old Ben Ownby.
Ben went missing Monday afternoon when he got off the school bus.
Authorities are focusing on the white truck seen near the spot where the boy disappeared in Beaufort, just 29 miles from Lonedell. Neighbors told police they saw the vehicle cruising the area earlier Monday. A schoolmate saw what may have been the same truck speeding away about the time Ben disappeared Monday afternoon.
Reported sightings of similar trucks have been pouring into the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.
"There are a lot of white trucks running around. We've been getting a lot of calls," said Sheriff Gary Toelke. His department is conducting the investigation along with the FBI and Missouri Highway Patrol.
Toelke told reporters Wednesday that they're checking up on sex offenders living in the area. Police also blocked off U.S. 50 Tuesday and questioned all passing motorists.
"I think (the road block) revealed a few individuals we were interested in, or became interested in," Toelke said.
Ben's father, William Ownby, said the strain increases longer his son is gone.
"We'd like to get our son back," Ownby said. He asked anyone who might be holding the boy to do the right thing.
"Drop him off somewhere where he can make a phone call," Ownby said.
Two FBI profilers arrived in Franklin County to compile a sketch of what the kidnapper could look like. Toelke said the profile would be shared with the public. A profile is also being made of Ben to determine places he may have frequented where someone could have taken notice of him.
An extensive search of the rugged, hilly area around the Ownby home turned up no clues.
FBI Special Agent Roland Corvington said stranger abductions are extremely rare, so it's likely Ben met his abductor before.
Loyd Bailie, Ben's uncle, said the family has scrambled to think of anyone suspicious that Ben might have met. They have given police a list of names to investigate.
William Ownby said he is convinced his son was taken by "some stranger in the area."
Ownby said his son is a computer enthusiast who played computer games every day after school. Police took the family's computer Monday night and scoured the hard drive to see if there was evidence that Ben met someone on the Internet who may have abducted him.
Both Ownby and Toelke said a search of the computer turned up no evidence of an Internet stalker. They said Ben rarely went online.
Ben was a described as a model student and Boy Scout who loved to read. Bailie said it would be out of character for Ben to run away or take a ride from a stranger.
Toelke said Ben was last seen by a fellow student after the two boys got off the bus after attending middle school in nearby Union.
The boys separated, and Ben's friend told authorities he looked back minutes later to see a white pickup truck with a camper shell in an apparent hurry, backing into a ditch briefly before speeding away.
Toelke asked that residents in the region keep an eye out for the white pickup. It had the word "Nissan" written in black letters on the back, but authorities weren't certain it was a Nissan.
Toelke said the pickup had dents and rust and lacked hubcaps. The camper shell had one continuous window along the sides, with what appeared to be a ladder rack on top.
Ben is white, 4-foot-10 and weighs about 100 pounds. He was last seen wearing a hooded St. Louis Rams windbreaker and blue jeans.
In the same hilly countryside 60 miles southwest of St. Louis four months ago, infant Abigale Woods was violently ripped from the arms of her mother in Lonedell, a small town in Franklin County, by Lonedell resident Shannon Torrez. "Baby Abigale" was missing for five days before Torrez's sister-in-law contacted police.
The child is back home with her parents and Torrez is in jail.
Toelke said that while police are investigating any possible connections to the two disappearances, he said, "there's really nothing that indicates that any of those right now could be linked."
He added that when two children disappear in six months, "you hope it's a fluke."
Toelke also had a message to Ben's potential kidnapper: "We're doing everything we can to find out where you are," and that he or she will benefit from just releasing Ben to his family or authorities.
"Let's get this thing resolved before it gets worse," Toelke added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.