Search for 4-year-old Scotland County boy turns 'investigative'

SCOTLAND COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- An Amber Alert issued Wednesday for Raul Johnson, a missing 4-year-old Scotland County boy, is still ongoing. Thursday evening, the Scotland County sheriff said the search has shifted from strictly a search or recovery to an "investigative side."

Stay on top of breaking news stories with the new ABC11 News App

Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said Thursday evening that "we're in the process of setting up all that we need at different locations so that we can work this from an investigative side."

The FBI and the SBI have joined the effort along with numerous local agencies and volunteers.

Starting Friday morning, Kersey said, his office, along with the SBI, and FBI will shift from search-and-rescue to an "investigative approach."

Asked whether he thought Raul was alive, the sheriff said, "By faith, I believe the little boy is still alive and that's what I have to stand on."

Raul is described as Indian, approximately 3 feet tall, weighing 38 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing a white-and-orange tiger-striped shirt with tigers on it and white pants with rocket ships printed on them.


Kersey said earlier Thursday that dive teams and canine teams were assisting in the search but there has been no success in finding Raul.

"Hopefully as we continue to search, it will bring about new information," Kersey said at an evening briefing. "But we have pretty much covered all the area that we thought a 4-year-old could travel barefoot and we have not left any rock overturned."

Kersey said they have checked ponds and canals and expanded beyond the original two-mile search radius.

He also said that investigators plan to drain a pond that has been a particular place of interest in the search.

"We'll just continue to do all we can," Kersey said.

Raul's mother, Annie Johnson, told ABC11 on Thursday that Raul and his sister got into an argument. Raul wandered outside and went next door to a neighbor's house where the neighbor sent him back home.

EMBED More News Videos

Raw video: Scotland County sheriff on status of search for missing boy Thursday afternoon.

Raul was last seen on Village Drive traveling on foot toward Crestline Road in Laurinburg, authorities said.

Authorities are still unsure whether Raul was abducted or if he wandered away.

"There's nothing that we have found in the interviews with the family members, the next-door neighbors, the information from the public that would indicate that we're dealing with foul play," Kersey said.

The boy's grandfather was watching him when he noticed the child was gone. When he didn't return, the panicked grandfather called 911.

On Wednesday, a dive team searched a pond near Village Drive; however, they did not find anything.

A multi-agency land search continued into Thursday.

EMBED More News Videos

Raul Johnson, 4, is the subject of an Amber Alert.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, Richmond County Sheriff's Office, and 300 volunteers have joined the search.

"If he didn't wander off, then someone out there knows something," Kersey said.

If you have any information regarding this case, call the Scotland County Sheriffs Office immediately at (910) 276-3385, or call 911 or *HP.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.