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I KNEW MUMMY WOULD FIND ME

By STACY MOORE Sunday, September 30 2012

click on pic to zoom in
SMILING AGAIN: Emilio Estrada, right, shares a moment with his mother, Lisa Roberts, 2nd right, and sisters Whitney Estrada and Reese Roberts at Newsd...
SMILING AGAIN: Emilio Estrada, right, shares a moment with his mother, Lisa Roberts, 2nd right, and sisters Whitney Estrada and Reese Roberts at Newsd...

TWELVE-YEAR-OLD Emilio Estrada, who had gone missing for the past four months, yesterday said he was always confident his mother, Lisa Roberts, would have found him and his prayers would be answered.

“I prayed and prayed. And I know Mummy always prays with us as a family. So I knew she would find me,” Estrada said with a bright smile yesterday, as he celebrated with his family members a day after being reunited with them, during an interview at Newsday’s San Fernando offices.

Emilio broke down in tears when he was first reunited with his family on Friday evening.

Speaking to Sunday Newsday in company with his siblings — three-year-old Reese, Whitney, 16, and his mother yesterday, Emilio said he was happy to return to his South Oropouche home.

The story began when Estrada was taken away from his mother by a male relative, under the guise he would eventually be taken to Florida for a better life. Instead, the boy was being kept at a house at Independence Avenue, Santa Cruz.

Roberts had formally handed over legal custody of her son on August 23, 2011. But the mother later learnt her son never left the country and was somewhere in Trinidad. It was also revealed that Emilio’s surname was changed from “Estrada” to “King” and he was told a woman in Santa Cruz who was taking care of him, was seeing about his papers so he (Emilio) could go to Florida.

Roberts tried contacting her son but efforts were futile, and the mother took matters into her own hands and began the search for her 12-year-old son.

On August 25 a breakthrough came when Estrada called his mother to say he was safe. But as she screamed out his name and asked where he was, the line went dead. Police officers, however, were able to trace the blocked number. Subsequently, Roberts was advised to petition the court for an order compelling the person/persons who had Emilio to hand him over to her custody.

Asked why he did not attempt to leave the Santa Cruz residence where he was being kept or protest if he was not comfortable, Emilio said, “They said that the lady was seeing about my things so I could go Florida. And my father said if mummy finds me she would go to jail.”

He said on several occasions he wanted to telephone his mother to tell her where he was being kept, but he hesitated because he wanted to protect his mother and siblings.

“My father told me that my mummy could not know which part I was,” he recalled.

Emilio said he was treated kindly at the Santa Cruz home, but felt very lonely.

“I missed my mummy and sister so much but I also prayed and I know one day they would find me,” he said.

He said he passed most of the time reading books, watching televison and riding a bicycle.

The young boy, who is a Standard Five student of the Oropouche RC Primary School, was found by police officers in Gran Curacaye, Bourg Mulatresse, Santa Cruz, on Friday.

Yesterday, Roberts said she was grateful to the woman, Lintia Andrews, who took care of her son. She said, however, that she could not understand why the woman “did not come forward when there was information that my son was missing via the media”.

The relieved mother also said she had not slept since being reunited with her son on Friday.

“It has been four months and I still cannot believe he is here with me. I watched him (Emilio) sleep last night. I just have this phobia that he is going to be taken away again. I can’t loose him again,” a tearful Roberts said.

Emilio will return to school soon and already arrangements have been made for him to visit the school’s counsellor.

However, the woman who Estrada had been staying with in Santa Cruz, Andrews, yesterday broke her silence in a phone interview, firing back by saying the young boy was never missing.

Andrews said the father of the child had given her power of attorney to keep him.

“I have been embarrassed since the story was printed because I know he was not missing,” Andrews said.

She told Sunday Newsday her husband and Emilio’s father were childhood friends.

“I had only got Emilio from August 25th and before that I was told he had been staying by an aunt in Arima,”Andrews said.

She further claimed that the current wife of Emilio’s father told her (Andrews) she had sent an e-mail to Newsday saying where Emilio was staying when news broke he was missing. That e-mail, however, was never received by Newsday.

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