Mason boy missing for more than 7 months
By Caty Hirst - CHIRST@VICAD.COM
Feb. 1, 2013 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 31, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.
John Earl hasn't seen or heard from his 8-year-old son in seven months.
He doesn't know whether John Jr. is OK; he doesn't know whether his little boy got to celebrate his birthday; he doesn't know whether he is happy.
But Earl does know he would do anything to get his little boy back.
"I just worry that he is in Mexico and with the situation over there, with the gangs and violence, I worry about him being in danger," Earl said. "Not knowing the language will make him stand out. I worry that he is not going to school. He was doing so well, and we were having so much fun with his homework."
The last time Earl saw his son was June 15, 2012, when he dropped John Jr. off with the boy's mother, Maria Teresa Earl, for the weekend.
Maria Earl, 50, and John Earl were supposed to meet the following Sunday - Father's Day - for John Earl to pick up John Jr.
"By the time 5:05 p.m. came around, I knew something was wrong ... I drove from Burnet to Temple, and just keeping an eye out thinking they may have had car trouble or what not," Earl said.
When he arrived in Temple to Maria Earl's apartment, he said the entire place was vacated.
From there, John Earl Jr., of Mason, was registered in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a warrant was issued for Maria Earl's arrest.
The U.S. Marshals Service has searched for the boy and Maria Earl. They found her car parked in San Antonio, but they still have not found the two.
"It hurts the most when you get your hopes up and nothing comes out of it," Earl said.
The Victoria County Sheriff's Office started assisting with the investigation in October, said Investigator Charles Williamson, of the Victoria County department, because Maria Earl has adult children who live in Victoria.
Williamson said he has interviewed Maria Earl's children, and they have denied any knowledge of her or John Jr.'s whereabouts.
"They have to have help, whether it is from family, friends or someone else. Someone is helping," Williamson said.
Which is why John Jr.'s grandparents are offering a reward to anyone with information that leads to the return of John Earl Jr., said his grandmother, Judy Uherek.
"I thought, 'Surely we will find him before school starts,' and then I thought, 'Well, we will find him by the time they have fall break'," Uherek said. "Then you go to Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Then you work really, really work hard to turn over the right rock before Christmas."
John Earl, meanwhile, said they all have to continue living, even as they continue searching and hoping.
"I still have to go to work and function. I am providing insurance for him, so if there is a bad situation he would be covered if they go to a hospital," Earl said.