Investigators tightlipped as Oregon boy's disappearance becomes criminal case

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ten days after a 7-year-old Portland boy disappeared, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton fought back tears while announcing the search has been reclassified as a criminal investigation.

Until now, Kyron Horman has been considered a "missing endangered child," a designation that spans a range of possibilities, including that a minor is danger after getting lost.

Staton announced the reclassification — along with a $25,000 reward for information that leads to Kyron — at a crowded news conference Sunday. But he offered no explanation for the change.

"(The investigation) is not going to stop," Staton said. "I will address those types of issues once we've located Kyron."

It's not the only detail about Kyron's disappearance that remains a mystery, as school officials and law enforcement try to keep a clamp on information they say could compromise the investigation.

What is known is that Kyron saw his stepmother, Terri Moulton Horman, in the hallway of rural Skyline Elementary School on the morning of June 4. It was minutes after he had presented his second-grade science fair project, a diorama on red-eyed tree frogs.

Hours passed. Kyron's school bus arrived at his home that afternoon, but he wasn't on it. His stepmother called the school, and the school called 911.

Investigators have refused to release a more detailed timeline of the day Kyron went missing — or say whether they've found any clues, or have any suspects or theories about what happened.

And it's the unknown that has consumed the attention of the people in this area, to say nothing of the camera crews and TV trucks that descended seemingly overnight.

"There's a terrible cloud over everything," said Elinor Markgraf, who has lived in the Skyline area for decades.

At a high school graduation party last week, Markgraf said the mood was tense.

"Nobody was talking about it," Markgraf said. "But it was so close to the surface."

One other detail is clear: Search and rescue teams have been combing a two-mile radius around Kyron's school. Skyline Elementary sits 725 feet above sea level, perched on the crest of a hill that takes a 300-foot drop to the east into the basin near a fork of the Columbia River some 5 miles away.

Teams spent hours drawing and redrawing on maps, splitting up the methodical work of walking the area with dogs, on horseback and sometimes in "grid teams," men and women walking nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, searching for evidence that Kyron had been there.

The elements worked against the teams that searched the area's dense forests. The rain that fell nearly every day made embankments near roadways slick and footholds undependable. At least one searcher had to be taken from the area by ambulance. But no details on the searcher's injuries were released.

"It is difficult terrain and, at times, difficult circumstances," said Sheriff's Capt. Monte Reiser.

Staton said Sunday the search for Kyron will be scaled back, with teams that came from across the state returning to their homes. But he said local teams will keep looking.

"Our commitment and resources are unwavering," Reiser added.