Adji Desir ~ Immokalee, FL ~ Missing Since January 10, 2009
Adji Desir was last seen on a Saturdy, around 5:30 p.m. in Farm Workers Village. He was 6-years-old when he disappeared from his grandmother’s home after going outside to play. At the time of his disappearance, Adji was 3 feet tall, 45 pounds, with black hair and dark eyes. Little Adji was wearing a blue shirt with thin yellow stripes, blue shorts with flamingos going down the sides, and black/grey sneakers. He is Haitian and understands Creole, but is developmentally disabled and has limited vocabulary. He functions on a 2-year-old level. Adji cannot speak Creole, but he knows his name; he cannot say his name.
The search was deemed complicated due to Adji’s limited vocabulary and being non-verbal. Although Adji knows his name, sheriff officials said he might hide from searchers and, while he may understand he is lost, he might not approach a stranger.
Time Line of Adji’s Disappearance:
January 10, 2009
Family members realized Adji was missing from his grandmother’s Farm Worker Village in Immokalee, FL. Adji’s mother arrived home late to find her family members in tears. She did not know what had happened until she got home around midnight after working all day.
January 11, 2009
Adji Desir’s mother, grandmother, and stepfather spoke to the media through an interpreter asking for help from the community. Adji’s stepfather, Antal Elant, is Creole. The stepfather told the media that their son is a “good boy” who knows everybody and plays with the other children in the small community.
About 150 law enforcement officers searched the area of Farm Worker Village.
January 12, 2009
Law enforcement expanded their search to a 4-square mile perimeter, concentrating on the Northwest side of the Village. According to Collier County Sheriff Sgt. Robert Brown, the officers conducted a line search, including places where Adji might hide like trash cans, and along the canal on the west side of the Village. In addition to the officers on foot, law enforcement officers searched by horseback and on all-terrain vehicles.
Community volunteers searched Immokalee, handed out fliers with Adji’s photo, which were printed in English, Spanish and Creole. Fifty-seven volunteers from around Southwest Florida fanned out across 31 areas throughout Immokalee. Authorities decided to involve local residents in the search to tap into area residents’ knowledge of their town and neighborhoods. The volunteers searched for three hours.
The Seminole Police helicopter searched throughout the day and into the evening. Sgt. Brown reported the search being difficult and slow due to the mangroves and wooded areas, but he was certain they had been thorough.
Adji’s disappearance reached national news. Lt. Tom Smith, a lead investigator with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office was featured on Nancy Grace.
January 13, 2009
Hundreds of volunteers continued to distribute fliers while emergency workers expanded their search to an eight mile radius. Vounteers met at the command center at Immokalee Community Park and got their area to cover with fliers. The volunteers knocked on doors and spoke to residents. By noon, the town had been fully covered. Additional fliers were handed out to local schools and some were given to bus drivers to hand out to kids as they were dropped off at home.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office cleared family members as suspects of Adji’s disappearance, including his biological father, who remains in Haiti.
January 14, 2009
The search perimeter remained at 12 miles. A comprehensive search of the neighborhood was conducted in Farm Worker Village, with contact of every resident. More than 100 law enforcement officials were briefed at an 8:30 a.m. meeting. Although the search continued in the area, Collier County Lt. Tom Smith said the department had started to look at the possibility that Adji was kidnapped. A press conference was held in the afternoon and Sheriff Kevin Rambosk gave the update on the search. He stated the department was conducting a parallel investigation; missing child and abduction.
Investigators combed through all the garbage collected over the week which consisted of approximately 20 truckloads of trash at the Immokalee Landfill. Members of the North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District continued into the evening looking through the trash.
As the search continued, the community chipped in reward money. The Collier County Housing Authority, in connection with Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, offered and additional $2,500 reward for information leading to Adji’s whereabouts. This was in addition to the Crime Stoppers reward of $1,000. Del Ackerman, owner of Del’s 24-Hour Store in East Naples, offered $3,000 reward to anyone who returned Adji to his family alive.
January 15, 2009
The perimeter of the search widened to 16 miles. Investigators conducted a comprehensive search of Lake Trafford and Immokalee. The family spoke with the media.
January 16, 2009
The search continued with ATV’s with the area expanding to include the entire Immokalee community. The search area was no longer defined.
January 17, 2009
The command center relocated to the Sheriff’s substation in Immokalee where they had the support of running databases. Investigators reported to have 168 leads.
A new group of 250 deputies searched a three-quarter mile radius of Adji’s home. Over hundred volunteers distributed fliers.
The ground search for Adji was called off at 8:00 p.m. and the search would continue through tips from this point on.
That evening, deputies spent four hours handing out fliers to vehicles traveling north and southbound on State Road 29, in front of Farm Workers Village.
Adji Desir was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.”
January 18, 2009
The Sheriff’s Office stated they had been able to rule about half of the more than 200 tips gathered since Adji’s disappearance.
January 23, 2009
Investigators reported they had received more than 300 tips since Adji disappeared from outside his grandmother’s home. Authorities had no solid lead as to whether Adji walked away and got lost or if he was taken against his will. Investigators had searched the homes of 16 of the more than 20 sex offenders in the Immokalee area. Officials in Lee and Hendry counties checked on nearby sex offenders. Officials reported the task force was watching one particular resident but did not release the identity.
February 9, 2009
Authorities continue to follow up leads. No ground searches were being conducted since they called off the search. The investigative search had spread through both of South Florida’s coasts with detectives searching on the east coast and delivering posters to law enforcement. The reason for the concentrated search in the Southwest and South Florida areas was because of the strong Haitian communities.
April 4, 2009
Marie, Neida, mother of Adji Desir, spoke to media about the difficulties she was experiencing surrounding Adji’s disappearance. She stated “I pray to God for my son to come back home.” Neida and her family members tried to continue with their daily lives after Adji having been missing for three months. They continued to pass out fliers and stayed in touch with Collier County Sheriff’s Office for updates.
Neida appeared sad and her husband stated the situation had taken an emotional and psychological toll on the family, but especially for Neida and Adji’s grandmother, Jesula Thebaud. The immediate family had not been sleeping at night. They pray daily for Adji’s safe return. The family holds on to hope their son will be found.
The flow of tips slowed at this point to law enforcement, but the multi-agency task force continued to work the case. The task force consisted of Collier County Sheriff’s Office, agents of the FBI, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children continue to keep Adji’s story in the national media.
The case had shifted to a more traditional criminal investigation.
Neida made a simple request — take care of Adji and return him home safely.
The rewards for information leading to the whereabouts of Adji is at:
- $23,000 Crime Stoppers reward
- $10,000 FBI reward
- $5,500 community-collected reward
April 18, 2009
Psychic, Gale St. John was in Immokalee searching for Adji. “It’s not only about being psychic always, it’s about properly searching the area,” said St. John. She searched for three days along with her daughter and a local volunteer. She attempted to cover “every inch” of the village which had already been searched numerous times by law enforcement. She suggested that the area be divided into grids and searched again.
Ms. St. John stated that she believed Adji was still in the area. She conducted her “blind drive” in the housing complex which led her to the grandmother’s house, a playground and Buffalo Court. She stated she got a false security behind Buffalo Court which is a dangerous area with alligators. St. John said she could do a better search if she had her cadaver dog, but he was back in Ohio. She outlined areas which needed to be searched.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristi Lester contacted St. John but had not heard from her since St. John’s arrival. She later found out that St. John had already left the area and said one of the investigators would contact her. (Note: Local Law Enforcement were unaware that Gale St. John was coming to Immokalee to search. They contacted her after her arrival.)
Interactive Map of Search Suggestions:
The placements on this map simply provide a consensus of Adji’s possible whereabouts. As the prediction markets theory goes, the more crowd members who contribute based on their individual knowledge base, the closer we get to an accurate answer. While we recognize this is not an official survey, we hope the results may be of some benefit to the authorities in this very sensitive search.
1. CLICK THIS LINK TO EDIT THE MAP AND ADD YOUR SUGGESTIONS TO THE SEARCH FOR ADJI DESIR
2. On the page that opens, click “sign in” in the upper right-hand corner. Naples Daily News has already established access to this Google map, which you can access as follows: Username: email@example.com. Password: findadji1
3. When the page opens, click the “edit” button in the left pane.
4. Add your suggested location in the description box, and your pin point by dragging your cursor to the location on the map at which you wish to set your pin
Sketches Released in the Disappearance of Adji Desir:
This sketch started out as a man and ended up being a woman. This happens sometimes. This woman has information about Adji. If you recognize this woman please get in touch with the police department. — Christine Hamlett-Walsh
This man is also connected to Adji’s disappearance and he has a tattoo that is like a twisted knot on his upper arm. – Christine Hamlett-Walsh
Written By~Shadowing Crime
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