BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Police investigating the disappearance of a 6-year-old boy thought they'd caught a break in the case Tuesday, but instead were left frustrated following a day of chasing down conflicting leads provided by a convicted sex offender and his mother.
FOXNews.com confirmed that Glynn County police had arrested George Edenfield, a 32-year-old convicted sex offender described as having the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, on unrelated charges of violating his probation, which prohibits him from having contact with children under 18.
Police said Edenfield was questioned in the investigation into the disappearance of Christopher Michael Barrios Jr. Edenfield lives in the same neighborhood as the Barrios family.
A tip from Edenfield led police to search a wooded field and canal near the Barrios home, but a search party of more than 200 officers, National Guardsmen and volunteers failed to find the child six days after he vanished, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said.
"He was not arrested for anything to do with our case," Glynn County Police Capt. Jim Nazzrie said. "We have talked to him and that's what led us to talk to his mother and that's what's led us on a wild goose chase," Nazzrie added. "He's a person of concern but there's nothing there to link him to anything at this time."
Glynn County investigators questioned Edenfield's mother early Tuesday morning.
Police searched Edenfield's mobile home Monday night after his mother told investigators the boy may still be alive, Doering said. Police found a piece of evidence related to Christopher's disappearance at the trailer, but Doering would not say what it was.
Edenfield's mother, meanwhile, was taken into custody and charged with hindering an investigation after she told law enforcement she thought she knew where Christopher may be, only to find she was intentionally leading them astray, Nazzrie said.
"We have spent all day going back over five square miles," Nazzrie said. "The only information we've got from anyone out there has not panned out to be true. That's why we have the subject in custody, for hindering an investigation. They're not charged with a crime or a criminal act against Christopher, but it's one of these things, 'well I can show you where the body's at,' well, it's not here.' "
Doering expressed similar frustration after spending the day acting on information provided by Edenfield.
"He's made four, five or six different statements, all conflicting," Doering said. "If we didn't think there was some credence to it all, we wouldn't be here. How much? I don't know."
Neighbors reported seeing Christopher last Thursday night walking the road not far from the homes of his father and grandmother, who live in a mobile home park about a half-mile from Interstate 95 just outside the port city of Brunswick on the Georgia coast. The boy has not been seen since.
Police found one of Christopher's toys, a Star Wars light saber, near where he was last spotted.
Dozens of volunteers have spent days helping search for the boy along the road and in the woods surrounding the mobile home park.
"The only thing that makes any sense is he was abducted," Doering said
"Please bring my baby ... anything you know ... whatever ... just relay it. Just help out and if you know somebody who's done something to my son, just turn him in, you know," Christopher Barrios Sr. told FOX TV affiliate WAWS.
He said earlier: "I miss my son. I'm ready for him to come home. I don't know where he is and I wish I knew where to start looking for him, you know, but I don't and it's heartbreaking."
Christopher's older brother, Brevin, who is 10, also said he wants Christopher home and that he misses him.
Sue Rodriguez, the boy's grandmother, told FOX News on Tuesday that Edenfield lived across the street from Christopher's trailer in the mobile home park, and that he had tried to talk to the boy.
"We told him 'don't go near that man, he'll hurt you, stay away from him,'" she said.
She said Christopher came to her house last Thursday, but later left to go back to his father's house nearby. He asked friends in the back of the trailer park to come play with him, but they couldn't, so he went to play on the swing set by himself.
"Then one of the neighbors said they saw him headed home, which is no more maybe than 100 feet, 200 feet from there, I'm not sure, then he just disappeared," Rodriguez said.
Asked whether the family still has hope Christopher is alive, she said: "Yes sir, we're holding on to that hope that he's alive and he's going to come home."
A reward of $31,500 has been offered for Christopher's safe return.
He is described as Hispanic/black, about 3 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing about 60 to 70 pounds. He was last seen wearing a long-sleeve blue or green shirt, black pants and white Reebok Velcro shoes with a blue stripe.
Anybody with information is asked to call the Glynn County Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 912-554-7802.
The Associated Press and FOX affiliate WAWS contributed to this report.