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FBI CALLED IN; POLICE SAY THEY HAVE NO LEADS

  Five minutes.
  That's roughly how long it took Jimmy Ryce, 9, to vanish Monday - within sight of his family's south Dade home, where his mother was waiting for him to return from school.
  The last person to see Jimmy was his school bus driver, who dropped Jimmy off sometime after 3 p.m. at his usual stop a few blocks north of his house. Jimmy, who attends the gifted program at Naranja Elementary, is the only student assigned to that stop at the corner of Southwest 232nd Street and 162nd Avenue.
  That worried his parents, said Jimmy's older brother, Ted. They had been pressuring the school system to let off their son at their driveway, because the bus drives past their house anyway.
  "I guess now they're going to do something about it," said Ted, 18, fighting tears.
For two days, Metro-Dade police have combed the Redlands area near the missing boy's home. Dozens of officers, aided by dogs and helicopters, swarmed the area. The FBI opened a kidnapping investigation and joined them, with 20 agents in the field interviewing family and neighbors.
  Still, the case has not been ruled a kidnapping, and police say there are no leads.
"We know that Jimmy would not get into a stranger's car," said Pat Ronemous, Jimmy's aunt. "He would have run toward the house. He would have to have been forced into a car."
More than 100 neighbors, from parents to retirees to local business owners, gathered at an elementary school on Wednesday to help search the pastures and woods around the community.
  Others passed out some of the 30,000 fliers that had been printed in English and Spanish, the cost covered by local printers and neighbors.
Brenda Fowler still waved leaflets bearing Jimmy's picture at passing motorists, even though it was growing dark and she had been there since 10:30 a.m. She stood near Jimmy's bus stop, where a homemade sign lettered on plywood had been posted: Please help find Jimmy. Please pray.
  "It could be your kid," Fowler said. "It could be my kid."
  Jimmy could have been anyone's kid. Neighbors described him as a happy, sweet child who loved playing chess and baseball.
  Both Donald and Claudine Ryce, Jimmy's parents, are lawyers; Donald is in private practice and Claudine, who is not licensed to practice in Florida, helps her husband. Samuel James Ryce is the youngest of their three children.
  While the couple remained secluded with police Wednesday evening, Donald Ryce issued a printed statement to the media camped in front of their ornate security gate, now festooned with yellow ribbons. "We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and support," he wrote. "We just ask them to focus on any information about Jimmy."
Police will continue their search today.
  "It's very disappointing that we don't have stronger leads that point in one direction - whether it be kidnapping or foul play," said Patrick Brickman, a Metro-Dade police spokesman. Police confess they are stumped by this case. Jimmy appears to be a normal boy from a normal family, they say.
  The Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services has no record of complaints against the boy's family, said Evelio Torres, administrative assistant for the HRS district office serving Dade and Monroe counties.
  And no witnesses have come forward. Liz Mindermann pulled into her driveway near the bus stop about the same time Jimmy would have gotten off the school bus. She remembers a light drizzle, but nothing else.
  "All you can do is have faith and hope," she said. "You can't think that he's dead. I won't think like that."
  Anyone with information on Jimmy Ryce should call Metro-Dade police at 471-8477. He is 9 years old, weighs 70 pounds, is 4 feet, 8 inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jean shorts, a white T-shirt, and black-and-white high-topped sneakers.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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