LOS ANGELES - After hours of searching, a 7-year-old boy who was reported missing from the Arlington Heights neighborhood in Central Los Angeles has been found safe, officers announced Wednesday afternoon.
Derek Clay was last seen around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday playing in the courtyard of an apartment complex located on Crenshaw and Pico boulevards where he lives with his grandfather and biological brother.
Derek, who is on spring break, often plays in the courtyard alone, but this time, he did not return home and was reported missing around 10 p.m.
LAPD detectives used bloodhounds during the search overnight but were unable to locate him. Around 3 p.m. Wednesday the police department announced that the boy was safely located in downtown LA, walking near 5th and San Pedro.
They believe no foul play is involved; but it is unclear how the child made his way to downtown. The boy was found about six miles away from his home near Skid Row.
Fox 11 News was the first to tell Donald Lewis, the boy’s custodial parent who he refers to as grandpa, that Derek was safe and in the care of LAPD.
Surprisingly, LAPD informed the media first, before the child's grandfather.
He explained the boys’ mother has been in and out of their lives. She lost custody of Derek in October and that's when Lewis stepped in to care for the boy.
Officers were able to locate the mother and speak with her, but it is unclear if she knew about his whereabouts.
Police say there is no reason to believe he ran away.
Anyone with info is urged to call 877-527-3247 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. You can also submit tips online.