Adji Desir — Disappeared, FL 1/10/09

Adji is not your typical six-year-old. Due to developmental issues, he has the mind of a two year old. He can’t speak, and only understands a few words of Creole.

And he has a tendency to hide when he’s scared…not good considering Immokalee is smack dab in the midst of the Florida Everglades. And he’s afraid of strangers, so he may try to hide from searchers as well.

All of which makes his disappearance from his grandmother’s house one Saturday afternoon even more alarming.

The Details
Adji was playing outside her home in a cul-de-sac of the Farm Worker’s Village development with a group of other kids all day. He came in to eat dinner, then went back out. Grandmother checked on him from her window, and he was fine. But when she checked again in 15-20 minutes, he was gone.

The kids he was playing with said he was just there a few minutes ago and didn’t know where he was now.

Mom was at work as a nursing assistant in a retirement home. Step-dad was around most of the day but left to run home for a short while. When he came back around 5PM, Adji was gone. (The family was cleared early on in the case, including Adji’s father, who lives in Haiti.)

The family searched for two hours before calling police, who immediately showed up with the FBI. They combed the village, knocking on doors, searching homes multiple times, checking trash cans and any place a little boy might hide. But they came up empty.

A week of intense searches by land, by air and boat, with bloodhounds followed…still no sign of the little boy. More than 2,400 leads have been investigated to date and all have come to naught.

Two of the girls he was playing with later said they last saw Adji walking away from the group down the road, towards the bridge over the canal. Neither of the girls recalled seeing him after that.

Another child said the Adji said he was going home because nobody would let him ride a bike. (Not sure how he could say that, since he didn’t speak…)

Could someone have taken him without being noticed by the kids? Could he have wandered off and hurt himself? Or been attacked by the abundant wildlife in the area–including alligators, panthers and wild boar?

No one knows.

The Challenging Location
Someone who is close to the case posted on Scared Monkeys that Farm Worker’s Village is government housing, with about 350 residents, largely immigrants who work on the nearby farms. They speak a mixture of Spanish, English and several Creole dialects.

Yet there is only one way in and out of the Village. So parents have always felt safe letting their kids play outside, even late at night.

The community itself is located near the corner of “two main back road highways.” Both are traveled mostly by truckers transporting produce to other markets. But it draws people going to the nearby casino too. And it’s surrounded by the dense brush and swamps of the Everglades as well.

So when you don’t have any clues, it’s kind of hard to know which way to go.

The Search Continues
Police and FBI went door-to-door in the Village and Immokalee community on the two-year anniversary of Adji’s disappearance a few weeks ago.

They handed out new fliers and are trying to build a Triangle of Trust between residents, law enforcement and Adji’s family to encourage people to come forward with anything they may know–no matter how small it seems–so they can finally bring little Adji home.

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1 Response to Adji Desir — Disappeared, FL 1/10/09

  1. tlneedham says:

    My two cents:

    A heartbreaking story to say the least, and this poor little guy didn’t get the media attention he deserved at the time as his case was quickly overshadowed by endless coverage of two other missing child cases in Florida.

    I do want to say though how impressed I am by law enforcement’s handling of this case. Right away, they took it seriously and pulled out all the stops in their efforts to find him. At the six-month anniversary, they created the video above for social networking sites to keep the case alive and help spread the word and continue to find ways to do that.

    And apparently, the main detective drops by Adji’s parents’ home every few weeks to let them know they’re still looking and they’re not going to give up. Sadly, I bet there are a lot of parents of missing persons out there who wished they were being treated the same.

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