CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities said the search for a 4-year-old boy who was reported missing in south Charlotte has ended with the child being found safe at a neighbor's apartment.
>> Reading this story in our app? The new "Follow the Lead" feature allows you to tap the blue tag indicated with a '+' to subscribe to alerts on the very latest breaking news updates.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Justin Idiarte disappeared from his apartment just before 1 a.m. Friday. Police said he was found alive and safe around 9 a.m. at a neighbor's apartment.
According to CMPD, the boy said he went to the apartment of a family friend overnight and said that his parents weren't home.
The apartment is less than 100 yards away from his.
"This is wonderful news and a good day," CMPD Maj. Mike Smathers told reporters after the boy was found. He thanked everyone who helped in the search.
Police said officers had been knocking door-by-door looking for Justin and that the boy was found when an officer knocked on an apartment door for the second time.
“A resident of an apartment opened the door for us and spoke to us and indicated that he (Justin) had come to the door sometime during the night and indicated that his parents were not home and let him in and took care of him,” Smathers said.
Channel 9 was the first local news station to arrive at the very active scene early Friday along Montcrest Drive and was with officers as they combed the neighborhood looking for clues.
Smathers said the boy was last seen around midnight at the Emerald Bay Apartments off Montcrest Drive, not far from Archdale Drive and Interstate 77. He said the child was in the apartment with his mother, two other younger children, and two teenagers or young adults.
The mother told police she thought she heard Justin get up to go to the bathroom. She dozed off and when she woke, realized her son was no longer in the apartment.
Family members looked on their own for roughly 30 minutes before calling the police, Smathers said.
Smathers also said Justin does not speak English but does recognize his name when he hears it. The boy does not have any disabilities or cognitive issues that police have been made aware of.
Smathers told Channel 9 that the biggest challenge police faced was a language barrier with the family, and that Spanish-speaking detectives were called to help with interviews. He said the family was cooperating.
Police said the boy's father was not at the apartment but saw the media coverage and came to the scene around 7 a.m.
The boy was described as having short black hair and was last seen wearing a gray shirt with a black Nike swoosh, a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jacket, camouflage swim-style shorts, and brown and tan boat shoes with white laces.
CMPD used a bloodhound early Friday morning to try to track Justin but was not successful. Police also deployed their helicopter over the neighborhood helping in the search. The aircraft has a heat-sensing device, and firefighters used handheld devices to check all the bodies of water in and around the complex.
Smathers said police were worried about the cold temperatures overnight and said all resources available in the county were used to find the boy.
"This is a full-court press from our department," he said. "All the resources in this county have been brought to bear for this child."
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.
(***ENGLISH***: CMPD provides update on missing boy)
(***SPANISH***: CMPD provides update on missing boy)
Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:
© 2020 Cox Media Group