6-Year-Old California Boy With Autism Missing for More Than 2 Weeks as Mom, Aunt Accused of Murder
Relatives of Duke Flores remain hopeful he'll be found alive.
Authorities in California have filed murder charges against the mother and the aunt of a 6-year-old boy with autism as the search for the child who has not been seen in more than two weeks continues, PEOPLE confirms.
According to a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, investigators continue their search for Duke Flores, who was last seen by his grandmother on April 14.
Police have not revealed what evidence led them to charge Duke’s mother, Jakee Contreras, and his aunt, Jennifer Contreras, with murder, but the statement indicates their arrests immediately followed an interview the mom had Saturday with detectives.
A family member called police last week, requesting they check on Duke after he hadn’t been seen in two weeks.
When police met with Duke’s mother at her Apple Valley home, she allegedly acknowledged he was missing, and had been for weeks.
Jakee Contreras, 29, was initially detained on child neglect charges, allegedly “for her delay in reporting [Duke] missing.”
Duke’s mom spoke to police while in custody Saturday, and the additional murder charge was filed.
Other officers, according to the statement, were dispatched to Jennifer Contreras’ home, also in Apple Valley.
The aunt, 29, and mother are both being held without bail.
It was unclear Monday if either had entered pleas to the charges against them or if they had retained attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
Relatives of Duke Flores remain hopeful he’ll be found alive, even after his mother and aunt allegedly changed their stories about the boy’s whereabouts several times, according to family members.
“The mother says he was playing outside in the front, and she went inside, did some things inside, came back out — Duke was gone,” Duke’s cousin, Jennifer Gutierrez, told CBS in Los Angeles.
The boy’s uncle, Angel Gutierrez, says he won’t rest until he knows what happened to his nephew.
“I’ve known that kid since he was a baby. I remember I used to carry him in my arms … It’s emotional,” the uncle said. “I’m trying not to break down at the moment. I’m still staying strong for him.”
Detectives ask that anyone with any information contact the Specialized Investigations Division at (909) 387-3589 and ask for Detective Narcie Sousa.