Couple Who Hoped to Adopt Baby Gabriel Johnson Now "Persons of Interest" In His Disappearance

Date: 2008-01-08

by Edecio Martinez

PHOENIX (CBS/AP) Jack and Terri Smith, an Arizona couple who hoped to adopt Gabriel Johnson, a missing 8-month-old baby, are now "persons of interest" in the boy's disappearance, according to Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Steve Carbajal.

Police say the couple from Scottsdale, Ariz., who wanted to adopt Gabriel from his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, may know more about the missing child's whereabouts than they're telling investigators, police said Thursday.

The baby was last seen in San Antonio in late December with his 23-year-old mother.

Elizabeth Johnson was arrested last week in Florida on suspicion of custodial interference after she didn't show up for a custody hearing in Arizona. Her car was later found by the FBI in San Antonio.

She has since claimed, in an exclusive interview with CBS affiliate KPHO, that she gave the baby away in San Antonio. She made that statement after she had sent a text message to the father, Logan McQueary, telling him she had killed the infant.

Police believe the baby has not been harmed.

"We are getting some indications that Gabriel is alive," Carbajal said Thursday. "We can't say specifically just what those are, but we are getting some indications that those are correct."

The Smiths have given numerous media interviews in recent days where they said they met Johnson at an airport during a long layover and befriended her. Terri Smith said the young mother wanted to give up her baby for adoption but the ex-boyfriend McQueary wouldn't go along.

Terri Smith told KTVK-TV in Phoenix on Thursday that the couple has cooperated fully with police and has nothing to hide.

The baby's father, McQueary, has said Johnson tried several times to get him to sign away his parental rights but that he refused.

Tempe police have been inundated with tips and are now directing callers to the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children.

Carbajal urged anyone who has the baby to bring him to a safe place like a fire station or a hospital if they are afraid to come forward.

"Our focus has always been the same, and that is locating Gabriel," he said.


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