Missing Boy Mystery: Did Harsh Discipline Contribute To Disappearance?


A 12-year-old Detroit, Michigan boy who had been missing for a week and a half and was the subject of an extensive search is out of the hospital and has been released to his mother after he was found alive and well in the basement of his father's home.

On Thursday, a day after Charlie Bothuell V was found, police took his 37-year-old stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, into custody on a parole violation. The warrant was issued on Monday. She was on parole for purchasing a pistol without a permit. Her 4-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter were taken from the home by Child Protective Services while Detroit police investigate alleged abuse. Dillard-Bothuell is the wife of Charlie's father, Charlie Bothuell IV.

Young Charlie was reported missing after his father said he disappeared on June 16.

Officers discovered the boy on Wednesday while serving a search warrant on the home as part of their investigation into his disappearance. It's not clear if the boy had been there the entire time; officers had been inside the home before and cadaver dogs searched the house last week.

Bothuell was initially taken to a hospital for an evaluation, but has since been released. Sgt. Michael Woody said Thursday morning that the boy still had not been in contact with his family because investigators wanted to speak with him first. They questioned and evaluated him. Now he is now with his biological mother.

Woody said Child Protective Services and the Department of Human Services are also involved in the investigation.

"Looks like he lost some weight -- a lot of weight," said Jesse King, who was with young Charlie Bothuell on Thursday night.

King has known Charlie since he was a baby and believes he is safer with his mother and grandparents on Detroit's east side, safer than at his father and stepmother's townhouse near downtown. But why?

"Draw the line between discipline and abuse," King said.

King said the talk inside the home Thursday night was little Charlie was, in their opinion, running from punishing abuse from his father, and that the boy had help hiding for nearly two weeks.

Investigators are digging into the home life created by Charlie Bothuell IV and Monique Dillard-Bothuell. Several sources told Local 4 that Monique and Charlie's father very recently had a family portrait made with the couple, their 4-year-old and 10-month-old, but Charlie was left out of the picture.

Birmingham doctor Gerald Shiener is a forensic psychiatrist who works closely with police.

"Certainly seeing a child absent from a family portrait raises some questions," said Shiener.

Shiener said stepmothers can be very hard on older stepchildren, and when Charlie Bothuell IV said he's a disciplinarian, police will find out exactly what that means.

"Are you tough, are you punitive, how does the child respond?" Shiener said.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said when police found Bothuell, he appeared to be hiding and didn't announce himself. Hours earlier, Craig had told reporters that investigators were "not ruling out the possibility of homicide" in the case.

When police found the boy, he was behind some boxes and a large plastic drum. Bedding also was found nearby. The boy lives in the home with his father and stepmother. Charlie Bothuell IV said he was as surprised as anyone that his son was in the basement.

"I'm shocked. I looked. The Detroit police looked. The FBI looked," he said. "To imply that I knew my son was in the basement is absurd."

The elder Bothuell was swarmed by reporters outside the house when he arrived home.

"I thought my son was dead," he said as he broke down in tears and hugged a reporter.

Craig told reporters earlier Wednesday that the boy's father had taken a polygraph test about his son's disappearance, but the boy's stepmother declined to do so.


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