Father fears boy, 2, taken in custody dispute
The Fruita Police Department late Wednesday was investigating the possibility that a 2-year-old boy was abducted from the front yard of his father’s home by the boy’s biological mother.
Mesa County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said parental abduction was one of several possibilities considered in the disappearance of Anthony Nocedal Jr., who last seen in diapers in front of 533 Harrison Ave.
The child’s father said he and the boy’s mother, Chelsea Leavitt, had been involved in a custody dispute. A legal arrangement prohibits Leavitt from taking her son outside Colorado unless she has his permission, said Anthony Nocedal.
“I hope he’s OK,” Nocedal, 24, said as paced and chain-smoked in front of his home as police and deputies wrapped up a search of the grounds immediately around the home about 6 p.m.
Fruita investigators had “second-hand” information that the boy was with Leavitt and did not believe he was in danger, Benjamin said.
Benjamin said authorities tried early in the evening to contact Chelsea Leavitt on her cell phone, but the calls were not answered. Leavitt, 34, lives in Las Vegas.
Benjamin said they believe she may be driving a green, four-door, 2001 Chevrolet Blazer, which has dents to the rear bumper. The vehicle has Nevada license plates, 107-VSD. She also may be associated with another vehicle, a white, 2010 Ford F-150 extended cab pickup, Benjamin said.
The missing boy was described as having light-brown hair.
Anthony’s family called 911 at 3:21 p.m., roughly 10 minutes after they said they noticed him missing, Benjamin said.
The boy’s father said he left the child outside in the front yard for a few minutes in order to check on food that was cooking on the kitchen stove. He said he thought it was OK to leave the child outside because he saw his girlfriend drive up to the house. His girlfriend, Alejandra Torres, said she walked inside the house and last saw the child following her to the front door, playing with rocks.
“We weren’t inside more than three minutes,” she said.
Nocedal said he thought Leavitt might be involved because he found a brown puppy pillow in the front yard that belongs to his son. The puppy pillow was given to the boy by his mom, and it had not previously been at the Fruita residence, Nocedal said.