4-year-old boy goes missing from Charlotte apartment

UPDATE! The boy has been found safe.

Justin Villeda Idiarte (Credit: Charlotte-Mecklenburg police )

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities are looking for a 4-year-old boy who has been reported missing in Charlotte.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police told WSOC that Justin Idiarte disappeared from his apartment just before 1 a.m. Thursday.

Crews were called to the scene Friday along Montcrest Drive and officers combed the neighborhood looking for clues.

Police Maj. Mike Smathers said the boy was last seen at about midnight at his apartment off Montcrest Drive, not far from Archdale Drive and Interstate 77.

He said the child was in the apartment with his mother, two other younger children, and two teenagers or young adults.

The mother told police she thought she heard Justin get up to go to the bathroom. She fell back asleep and then realized her son was no longer in the apartment.

Family members looked on their own for about 30 minutes before calling the police, Smathers said.

Smathers also said Justin does not speak English but does recognize his name when he hears it. The boy does not have any disabilities or cognitive issues that police have been made aware of.

Smathers told WSOC that the biggest challenge police are facing is a language barrier with the family, and that Spanish-speaking detectives were called to help with interviews. He said the family was cooperating.

The entrance to the Emerald Bay Apartments was blocked by police, who had set up a mobile command post as they searched for Justin.

The boy is described as having short black hair and was last seen wearing a gray shirt, a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sweater, khaki pants, and black and brown shoes with white laces.

Police used a bloodhound to try to track Justin but was not successful. Police also deployed their helicopter over the neighborhood helping in the search.

The aircraft has a heat-sensing device, and firefighters were using handheld devices to check all the bodies of water in and around the complex.

Smathers said police were worried about the cold temperatures overnight and said all resources available in the county were being used to find the boy.

“This is a full-court press from our department,” he said. “All the resources in this county have been brought to bear for this child.”

Anyone with information about the boy can call 911 immediately.

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