His tiny body washed up on a quiet stretch of a Texas beach nearly three weeks ago, yet no one has come forward to claim him as their own.
So for now, the boy whom authorities believe is between 3 and 5 years old, with the big brown eyes and dark hair, is simply known as “Little Jacob.”
Since Oct. 23, investigators have been working to no avail to identify the child, whose naked body was found by a passerby on an early evening stroll on the beach in Galveston, Texas, authorities said at a news conference on Monday.
After police released a composite sketch of the boy last month, they received “hundreds and hundreds” of tips, according to Galveston police, but authorities still don’t know who the child is or how he was killed.
With no solid leads to go on, the Galveston police and the FBI are now offering up to $10,000 for information about the boy until they can positively identify him, Galveston police Capt. Josh Schirard.
The vexing case is being treated as a homicide, he said. “We have 37 miles of beaches here in Galveston. Experiencing a drowning is not something that’s foreign to us. Drownings, while sad, are easy — this is extremely unusual.”
“My hope is that we don’t have to call him ‘Little Jacob’ for long,” Schirard said of the boy.
He added, “Someone out there knows this child’s family.”
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“It’s heartbreaking that no one has come forward to help us [identify] who this person was,” Ed Michel, the FBI assistant special agent in charge of the bureau’s Houston office, said at Monday’s news conference. “We believe someone out there knows something or has seen something that could help us in this investigation.”
To help them track down the child’s identity or locate his family, Galveston police and the FBI are expanding their search, which will now be nationwide.
Digital billboards featuring a composite sketch of the boy and the FBI tip line will also be running in Houston, all over Texas and in several other states, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Authorities on Monday also gave out possible clues that they called “indicators,” to help the public identify the boy’s family.
“Prior to the boy’s disappearance, family members of the child may have indicated that the child caused additional stress on caregivers due to the child’s health or behavioral conditions,” Capt. Schirard said. “The family might have an unusual interest in the investigation or seem nervous or irritable.”
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Police also said it is not clear whether the child is a U.S. citizen.
“At this point, we’re not concerned with the documented status of Little Jacob, of his parents, of his family,” Schirard said.
The FBI has created a “Seeking Information” poster with a sketch of the boy that will be updated periodically, so the public is encouraged to visit the site regularly.
The poster will also be shared on Twitter @FBIHouston and @miFBIHouston.
Anyone with information is urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or 1-800-225-5324.