ERNUL, N.C. (WNCT) – Officials provided an update on the search for missing 3-year-old Casey Hathaway at a news conference Wednesday evening.
Sheriff Chip Hughes said the search is ongoing and reiterated they are treating it as a missing child investigation.
Hughes said they are following all leads but do not regard the disappearance as suspicious.
“The family has been extremely cooperative,” Hughes said.
The search for Hathaway is ongoing off Toler Road in the Ernul area of Craven County, with more than 200 volunteers helping law enforcement agencies.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said a grandmother was inside the home while Casey and two other children played outside.
The grandmother was not Casey’s primary caregiver, Hughes said, but Casey would stay with her from time to time. The other two children were a little bit older than Casey, Hughes said.
Casey was last seen shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday.
They looked for the 3-year-old for about 45 minutes before calling law enforcement.
The boy was last seen wearing a blue-colored coat and dark pants.
“It’s a stressful time for the family and everybody involved,” Hughes said. “But I can tell you we are certainly doing our due diligence, spending a lot of time with them and just sorting through all the different stories. And as calls come in, and we’ve had a number of them about things they’ve heard in the woods, none of them have panned out yet. But every lead we are following and going straight to it.”
The search is being concentrated in a one-mile radius of the home.
Investigators are using drones and helicopters to cover all angles, and the Craven County EMA said that they have enough volunteers for Wednesday.
Hughes said they are especially concerned due to the numerous sinkholes in the area and because the boy was not dressed for the cold.
“We are not leaving here until we bring some closure to this family,” said Hughes. “And, hopefully, it will be a positive, end on a positive note.”
The Craven County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation with assistance from State Highway Patrol, the New Bern Police Department, Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office K-9s, NC Wildlife Resources, the FBI and the SBI.
Deputies are asking residents living in the area are to check storage sheds, vehicles, and their property for the child.