Police locate boy reported missing
July 19, 2010
STURBRIDGE — Monday morning, one family got the call many dread: Their son did not arrive at his summer school program.
That sparked a missing person's report and a lot of chatter on the police scanner for the next couple of hours. Sturbridge notified Southbridge — the boy was supposed to be bicycling to Wells Junior High School — and Southbridge officers visited the Hamilton Street home of one of the boy's friends.
As Officer Dan Southall and Sgt. Carlos Dingui were talking to the friend's mother, the two boys rode up on their bikes. Dingui later noted it seemed they'd simply chosen to skip the school program.
"You get the 1,000 where that happens, then the one where it doesn't," Southall said of how police approach missing child cases. "You have to treat them all differently."
Dingui agreed, noting police handle a missing teenager very differently from a missing toddler. But in most such cases, "Time's a crucial element" to finding the child unharmed if, in fact, they have been actually abducted or gotten lost.
He recalled a case about 1.5 years ago where they conducted a serious search for an autistic young man who had vanished from his home. He was found unharmed riding his bicycle on the Dudley side of town, Dingui said.
The family declined to comment, adding they did not wish to be identified.