Foster Parents Remain Focus Of Missing Boy Investigation
Posted: 11:05 pm PDT August 31, 2009
Updated: 3:51 pm PDT September 1, 2009
OAKLAND, Calif. — The foster parents of missing Fremont 5-year-old Hasanni Campbell may have been released from jail because of a lack of evidence, but the Oakland police said Tuesday the couple remained the focus of their investigation.
At an afternoon news conference, Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan left little doubt that the couple remained at the center of the investigation.
“This case is an on-going investigation; we will continue to follow up on leads,” he said. “We strongly believe and know for a fact that Hasanni Campbell never made it to Oakland on August 10th…We are continuing putting our efforts into solving this case and potentially re-arresting Mr. Louis Ross or Jennifer Campbell at some point. We respect the DA’s opinion, but we have more work to do here.”
However, Jordan didn’t offer any evidence to back up his assertion and left a brief news conference at police headquarters without taking any questions.
Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason told reporters that the last time anyone other than Ross or Campbell saw Hasanni was at the Walmart store in Fremont on Aug. 6, four days before Ross reported that Hasanni was missing.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office had released Jennifer Campbell on Monday and said it would release Louis Ross on Tuesday.
Veteran defense attorney John Burris, who has been advising the couple, told KTVU the arrests were an investigative gamble that had backfired.
“I was not surprised that she (Campbell) was released and not charged,” he said. “I knew the evidence. I knew there was no evidence and she was not going to talk because she had already given as many statements as she could.”
“I think it was a rush to judgment – an overreaction on the part of the police. They did not have evidence to support a conviction for her and I doubt that they had enough for a conviction for him. It may be a tactic on their part…I always thought it was a tactic by the police to squeeze one or both them to offer up incriminating evidence. It did not work.”
Campbell was arrested Friday on suspicion of aiding and abetting a homicide. Her fiancé Louis Ross was arrested at the couple’s Fremont home on the same charge.
Ross reported Hasanni missing on August 10th from Oakland’s Rockridge area.
“All I know is that this was one of the most difficult times in my life,” Campbell told KTVU after her release. “I’m still focused on finding Hasanni.”
Campbell said she was “in utter shock” when police arrested her at the Union City BART station Friday when she spoke to KTVU about being interrogated by police.
“They just said I was guilty of something. I told them I didn’t do anything. I just said find Hasanni. They accused me over and over again of doing something. I told them I didn’t,” Campbell said.
Oakland police have not said what led to the arrest of the foster parents or why investigators believe the child is dead.
Following her release, Campbell attended a prayer service for Hasanni in the Rockridge neighborhood.
Campbell was greeted by friends and those who have helped in the search for Hasanni.
Campbell said she was kept away from other inmates in an isolated cell at Santa Rita jail, but could still hear the inmates yell out derogatory remarks at her.
“I know what’s in my heart and anybody who knows me knows what I’m capable of. [They] know what I would do and know that this isn’t even in my character,” she said.
Campbell also said she has no doubt that Ross did not harm Hasanni either.
“We had nothing to do with it. He’s our little boy. We want him…and we want him back and our main concern is finding him and we still want people to come out. We still want people to know he is missing.”
Burris said being arrested was traumatic for Campbell, who is six months pregnant, and caused her “a great deal of emotional harm.” He had visited Campbell and Ross Sunday in jail, in attempt to assist them in locating a criminal defense attorney.
A search of Lake Elizabeth in Fremont has been organized for Saturday morning. Volunteers said they intend to continue to hold weekly vigils for Hasanni until he is found.
Murderers or model parents?
Phillip Matier,Andrew Ross
Hasanni Campbell’s foster parents – whom Oakland police held over the weekend on suspicion of being involved in the 5-year-old Fremont boy’s disappearance – would appear to be the least likely of suspects, according to social service records that have been turned over to investigators.