By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Police searching near the boy's house.
Photo shows police conducting a search using sonar equipment.
MOUNT PLEASANT, MI (WNEM) -
Authorities say the search for a 4-year-old boy reported missing from a Mid-Michigan Indian reservation is now a criminal investigation.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe says the search for Carnel Chamberlain on Tuesday is focusing on a wooded area near a wastewater treatment plant. Police are combing an area near the boy's house. Sonar equipment is being used at the water treatment plant.
The mother of the 4-year-old boy reported missing from the Indian reservation says she is holding out hope that he'll be found safe.
Tribal Police are calling her boyfriend, Anthony Bennett, 20, a "person of interest" in the case. Police said they asked Bennett to take a polygraph test and he turned the request down.
The Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant reports Monday's searches were concentrated in wooded areas near the home. Also Monday, MLive.com reports a search warrant was executed related to the boyfriend. Details about the warrant weren't released.
Twenty-one-year-old Jaimee Chamberlain told TV5 on Monday that Carnel Chamberlain was being cared for by her boyfriend at her home when the child disappeared Thursday. She says she got home from work that night and her boyfriend told her Carnel wasn't there.
Chamberlain says she looked inside her home and called police. "My son called him 'stepdad,' if Carnel needed something, he was helping, he was helping me with him, he told me he loved my son," said Chamberlain.
She told TV5's Andrew Keller she doesn't know what happened and pleaded for anyone who knows anything to come forward.
>>Read TV5 Reporter Andrew Keller's live tweets from the scene of the search at the top of this story<<
Chamberlain also told Keller that as of Monday, her boyfriend is not cooperating with police. Chamberlain said her boyfriend has found a lawyer and he's not saying a word. "He's the one [who's] lost my kid, you figure he'd be the main one trying to help everybody," said Chamberlain.
Additional searches got underway Monday morning for for Carnel. Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe spokesman Frank Cloutier says authorities regrouped on Monday after search teams, the FBI, police dogs and more than 100 volunteers scoured a densely wooded area Sunday for the boy off the reservation near Mount Pleasant. The searching will continue overnight and into Tuesday morning.
"It's confusing for me, I don't know what to think about this and I probably will never know what to think about this if my son don't come home," said Chamberlain.
TV5 did learn that Chamberlain's boyfriend has a criminal record, including a felony assault on a police officer.
Cloutier says crews on Sunday also searched ponds at a wastewater treatment plant near the child's home, but nothing significant was found.
The boy is a member of the tribe and was reported missing by his family Thursday night. The tribe has said the boy's disappearance was "suspicious."
A spokesperson with the tribe could not answer questions about the possibility of foul play.
The 4-year-old was last seen near a home on the Isabella Reservation. He was in the area of Tomah Road near Leaton Road.
Chamberlain is about 3' tall with short dark hair and green eyes and was last seen wearing a dark shirt with "Angry Birds" written on the front. He also had on dark blue or green shorts with green trim.
If you have any information, you're urged to contact Tribal Police at 989-775-4700.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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