Police investigators from three agencies, acting on information developed by the FBI, served a search warrant Monday at the rental home of an 11-year-old boy who has been missing for five months in central Washington.
The search warrant was based on allegations that Cody Haynes was beaten severely inside his father’s second-floor rental apartment on Main Street in Kittitas, Police Chief Steve Dunnagan said.
Details provided by one of the missing boy’s sisters, now in state custody, provided enough probable cause for investigators to get a judge to sign the search warrant, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Investigators who entered the apartment on Valentine’s Day were looking for traces of blood, particularly in the kitchen. What they initially found, sources said, was that the kitchen flooring had been replaced without the knowledge or consent of the landlord.
The investigators got a second amended search warrant allowing them to seize a computer found in the apartment.
Dunnagan confirmed investigators had made “a significant discovery inside the apartment,” but he wouldn’t discuss particulars.
No trace of the boy has been found. Investigators fear he is a homicide victim.
“We don’t know that for sure, yet,” Dunnagan said, “but we still haven’t found him.”
No arrests have been made.
The chief said he was “certainly hopeful” the first search warrant served in the 5-month-old case would produce a break. “We are hoping there will be more developments,” he said when reached during the search.
The Kittitas Police Department, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol’s crime scene response team from Spokane were involved in the search.
The FBI entered the investigation late last year, assigning the case to an agent who specializes in missing and exploited children. It wasn’t immediately known if FBI agents were involved in the search.
The FBI agent, in a series of interviews, developed a rapport with the young girls taken from the home and placed in foster homes, the sources said. The girls, apparently fearing possible parental retribution, initially said nothing had happened to their brother on the day he vanished from the family’s home.
But last week, the oldest girl told the agent her brother had been severely beaten in the home shortly before he disappeared. That gave investigators enough legal standing to obtain the search warrant.
The boy was reported missing Sept. 12 – more than 18 hours after he had disappeared from the apartment where he lived with his father, Richard “Rick” Haynes, an Ellensburg tow-truck driver, and Haynes’ girlfriend, Marla Harding, who once worked as a state Child Protective Services worker. They told police Cody had run away, pointing police to his backpack found outside the home.
Harding was asked to leave the apartment at 109 N. Main when police showed up at 9:45 a.m. Monday. Haynes was contacted simultaneously at D&M Motors in Ellensburg, where other detectives used the warrant to impound his Chevrolet Suburban.
Haynes and Harding have not been charged in the boy’s disappearance.
The couple was married about six weeks ago in Yakima, not long after they had sold the family’s van. Rick Haynes used the van at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 to go on what he told police was a 250-mile journey throughout Eastern Washington looking for car parts for his 1954 Kaiser.
He initially told Kittitas police he had sent his son to his room as discipline after the boy had refused to do the dinner dishes and put away the leftovers.
“We have new information that leads us to believe Cody was subjected to physical punishment, discipline, the night before he allegedly ran away from home,” Dunnagan said.
“This new information is in direct conflict with information we’ve previously been given by the couple,” the police chief said.
The van was located about two weeks ago and will be searched along with a camper trailer and the Chevrolet Suburban, Dunnagan said.
Haynes and Harding, who home-schooled their children, initially drew attention when they didn’t participate in a communitywide foot search for the boy a few days after he had disappeared. Later, they invoked their right not to speak with investigators.
The family taped a note addressed to Cody on their back door at the top of rickety stairs leading to the family’s second-floor apartment.
Four girls who lived in the home were taken from Haynes and Harding by Child Protective Services workers shortly after the boy had disappeared.
The couple fought the removal of the girls, but they have been placed temporarily in foster homes by a judge. The girls, initially interviewed by the Kittitas police chief and sheriff’s detectives, were interviewed again after the FBI entered the investigation late last year after the case generated national media attention.
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