LAS VEGAS – A 6-year-old boy abducted from his home at gunpoint was safe in his father’s custody Sunday as police tried to untangle any ties the youngster’s family had to the Mexican drug dealers suspected of taking him.
Police were interviewing Cole Puffinburger after he was found by a bus driver Saturday night on a quiet street outside a Methodist church in Las Vegas.
“We’re speaking with the boy today,” FBI spokesman David Staretz said Sunday. “I know he’s being interviewed by law enforcement, and we’ll probably get a better idea of where he’s been.”
Cole’s father, Robert Puffinburger, was a picture of relief at a news conference, as he smiled, cried and thanked police and neighbors for helping to bring Cole home.
“I’m just so glad he’s safe,” his father said.
Staretz would not comment further on what had happened to Cole in the four days since he was snatched from his mother’s home by two men posing as police officers. Police have said they believe the abduction Wednesday was an attempt by drug dealers to send a message to the boy’s grandfather.
A bus driver for the disabled discovered Cole walking alone on a residential street, said Jacob Snow, a general manager for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The driver pulled over to see if he was OK.
“Cole approached the bus and asked the driver, ‘Can you take me home?’ ” Snow said.
The bus driver, who did not want to be identified, took Cole onto the bus and contacted police, Snow said. The child told the driver and riders that he had been dropped off just a few minutes before.
Cole was in “extremely good condition” but was taken to University Medical Center as a precaution, Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito said. He was treated and released to his father’s care early Sunday, hospital spokesman Rick Plummer said.
Robert Puffinburger and police had concentrated search efforts on a largely Hispanic neighborhood a few miles from where Cole was found. They posted fliers in English and Spanish with a photograph of the boy, a slight, smiling blond in glasses.
Robert Puffinburger would not comment on Cole’s mother or her father, 51-year-old Clemens Tinnemeyer, who police say may have stolen millions from dealers involved in trafficking methamphetamine.
Tinnemeyer was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate today in Riverside, Calif. He was arrested there Friday and was being held in nearby San Bernardino on a material witness warrant issued by a federal court in Nevada.