[Breaking news update, 4:10 a.m.]
Ismael Tristan Santisteban, a 4-year-old Florida boy who was missing after four bodies were found near his home, has been found safe, authorities said Friday. Adam Matos, the man who authorities suspected had taken the boy, is in custody, police said.
[Original story, published 1:56 a.m.]
Authorities in Florida are searching for an autistic 4-year-old boy and the man he may be with after the discovery of four bodies near the boy’s home.
Sheriff’s deputies entered a home in Hudson during a welfare check Thursday and found “obvious signs that something bad had happened,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
While searching the area, a sergeant “smelled something horrible. He saw birds circulating,” Nocco said.
The sergeant found the bodies, believed to be of two adult men and two adult women, over a hill about 3/4 of a mile from the house, Nocco said.
But there was no sign of the boy, Ismael Tristan Santisteban.
Authorities believe he may be with 28-year-old Adam Matos.
“Our main concern is to get Tristan back and make sure he is safe, because I can tell you right now, we have grave concerns about him being with Adam,” Nocco said.
An Amber Alert has been issued for Tristan.
‘Probably scared to death’
Law enforcement officials were not immediately sure about the exact relationship between Matos and Tristan.
“We’re getting some conflicting stories from within the family as to whether he was the biological father or he was just someone who cared very deeply for him and helped raise him,” Nocco said.
The bodies haven’t been identified yet. CNN affiliate Bay News 9 reported that the people living in the home had recently moved there from Pennsylvania.
Sheriff’s deputies visited the property last week after Tristan’s mother called 911, alleging that Matos had held a knife up to her, Nocco said.
But they were unable to find Matos at the time and haven’t tracked him down since, the sheriff said.
Tristan was last seen at his home on August 28, according to authorities. Detectives are trying to establish what exactly happened over the week since then.
“We’re still putting all the pieces together,” Nocco said, but stressed that the priority was Tristan’s welfare.
“Right now, we just want to put our arms around a little boy who’s probably scared to death and tell him everything’s going to be OK.”
Pickup truck found
The sheriff’s office had initially said they believed Matos and Tristan could be in a blue Ford F150 pickup truck.
But Bay News 9 later reported that the truck had been found.
Matos was briefly employed as a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant down the street from the home, Bay News 9 reported.
He worked there for about seven to 10 days, but stopped coming in last week, according to managers at the restaurant.
“One day, he said he had to watch his son and then we never saw him,” said John Hill, the owner.
Managers said Matos last came to the restaurant on August 29 to pick up his last paycheck.