NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new billboard has been put up in Brooklyn Monday to help find a boy who went missing more than 9 years ago.
Patrick Alford was just 7 years old when he disappeared from an apartment building in East New York.
He was last seen in the hallway with his foster mother.
“I can’t imagine what that mom must be going through. If we’re in the house and just for a few seconds, if I’m not hearing [my son] make noise, it puts me in a panic. So for her to be missing her child for nine years, I could imagine the panic that she’s going through right now,” Bianca Skerrette, of Brooklyn Heights, told CBS2’s Nina Kapur.
James Osgood, a newly hired private investigator who is an ex-NYPD officer, believes Alford may still be in the area. He’s looking for new leads via social media and by handing out flyers.
“I’m hoping that he’s found and he’s alive and well,” Osgood said.
Osgood thought another great way to spread the word would be to blow it up and put it on a billboard.
The billboard will be located near the building where he went missing.
It shows a photo of Alford at age 7 next to an age-enhanced photo of what he could look like today at 16 years old. It also lists phone numbers and the $250,000 reward, all in hopes that people in the area recognize his face or feel compelled to speak up.
“I’m hoping that after nine years, if people were afraid to speak then, that they might not be afraid to speak now,” Osgood said.
Many people in the area still remember his disappearance. Some said they’re shocked to learn nine years later, he still hasn’t been found.
“A lot of children go missing and there’s not, nobody taking no real action to find them. The question is, where are they going? Who’s coming to take them?” Charles Douglas, of Brooklyn Heights, said.
The billboard will remain up through the summer until October.
The reward money comes from a trust fund set up to benefit Alford upon his return. The trust attorney says a portion of it can be used to secure his safe return. This money is separate from the Crime Stoppers reward of $12,000.