KITTITAS, Wash. – It’s been one year since 11-year-old Cody Haynes mysteriously vanished from his family’s apartment in this central Washington farming community.
A faded flier of the missing boy is still posted on the glass front door of the Kittitas City Hall, but inside, behind his desk last week, Police Chief Steve Dunnagan said he’s stumped, without answers.
“Logically, I would say he’s probably not alive, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still hold out hope,” said the chief of the two-man police department.
While other cases receive national media attention, the disappearance of Richard “Cody” Haynes Jr. has become like dozens of other “missing and exploited” children whose names and pictures end up in a database, with little notoriety.
The case has stalled, in part, because evidence seized seven months ago is caught up in a backlog of cases awaiting testing at the Washington State Patrol crime lab in Cheney.
The investigation has included unsuccessful ground searches at two remote locations in Kittitas County and at a third site near Sprague Lake, near the Spokane-Lincoln county border, Dunnagan said last week. Cadaver dogs were used in the Kittitas County searches.
In July, interest briefly focused on Joseph Edward Duncan, who was arrested in three killings and the abduction of two children in Kootenai County.
But Duncan, who traveled the Interstate 90 corridor between Tacoma and the Midwest, apparently was in Fargo, N.D., at the time of Cody’s disappearance.
Dunnagan checked Duncan’s Internet diary shortly after his arrest. “I feel pretty comfortable he was not in our area at the time Cody disappeared,” the Kittitas police chief said.
Dunnagan also checked a log book of another West Coast serial pedophile who kept a list of his victims. “Cody’s name was not on his list,” he said.
Last month, a team of eight FBI agents and Washington State Patrol detectives specializing in missing and exploited children “went back to square one” in the investigation. The team re-interviewed everyone initially interviewed, along with a few other potential witnesses who hadn’t been contacted.
The team also questioned five Level II and III registered sex offenders living in Kittitas County. “All five of them have been ruled out for any involvement in the disappearance,” Dunnagan said.
Others leads have taken the chief to North Idaho and Oregon for interviews. A reported sighting of Cody in Vallejo, Calif., turned out to be another boy, Dunnagan said, pointing to six large binders full of reports.
While no suspects have been identified, investigators remain interested in possible involvement by the boy’s father and his girlfriend – a former Child Protective Services worker.
The missing boy is the son of Richard “Rick” Haynes, a tow-truck operator who works in Ellensburg, 10 miles west of the small community of Kittitas.
Haynes and his live-in girlfriend, Marla Harding, stopped talking with police a month after Cody disappeared on Sept. 12, 2004. The couple said Cody had run away after refusing to do the dinner dishes.
Haynes and Harding, who later married, still aren’t talking publicly or with investigators.
“I’ve had no conversations with them since they stopped talking to us last October,” Dunnagan said.
Shortly after the boy disappeared, the police chief developed information that harsh physical discipline was regularly handed out in the home. Cody and his sisters were home-schooled, but had attended public schools at various times.
State Child Protective Services workers took action last fall, removing the remaining children – Cody’s four sisters, ranging in age of 7 to 14 – from the home.
Haynes and Harding fought attempts by the state to permanently remove the four girls from their home. Haynes also asked a judge to issue an “anti-harassment” order against Dunnagan, but the court said the chief was merely doing his job.
Last month, Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Michael Cooper ruled that it would be unsafe to return the four girls to live in the Haynes home.
After a hearing that was open to the public, the judge issued a 35-page order – now under seal – that reportedly details a pattern of abuse in the Haynes home.
“All I can say is those children are ‘dependent,’ ” said Lynnette Hynden, area administrator for the state’s Department of Children and Family Services.
“A Superior Court judge has ordered the children to remain in the care and custody of the department,” Hynden said.
Since their removal from the home, three of the Haynes girls have lived with one family and the fourth older teen has lived with another family.
The girls were interviewed by a female FBI agent who specializes in dealing with missing and exploited children. Over time, investigators say, they began revealing tales of abuse that had occurred in the home, including beatings given to Cody.
Armed with that information, the police chief in February got a judge to issue a warrant allowing investigators to search the Haynes apartment on the second floor of an old frame home on Main Street.
In February, five months after the boy disappeared, the chief and state patrol detectives found what could be vital evidence in the apartment.
Under newly replaced floor covering, investigators spotted what they believed were blood traces.
But seven months later, Dunnagan is still waiting for the state patrol’s crime laboratory to determine if the evidence is human or animal blood.
If the five samples turn out to be human blood, investigators will then attempt to determine if it matches the DNA profile of the missing boy.
“I’d love to find him alive, somewhere, maybe living with a kindly older person who was taking good care of him,” Dunnagan said as late-summer hornets buzzed outside his office.
“Right now, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.”
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