Tempe police searched the home Thursday of a Scottsdale couple considered “persons of interest” in a missing Arizona baby case.
The search warrant was specific to the investigation of 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson, whose mother, Elizabeth Johnson, 23, said she gave the baby away in San Antonio, said Tempe Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mike Horn.
Evidence was taken from the residence, Horn said, but he would not say specifically what the items were.
However, homeowner Tammi Smith told the Tribune on Friday that authorities took computers from the house and a notarized document claiming to have given the Smiths custody of Gabriel.
“I’m just glad that they were able to get the computers,” Tammi Smith said. “I had been wanting them to take them so they can see what I’ve been telling them corroborates with what’s on the computers.”
Johnson was last seen with the baby on Dec. 26 in San Antonio. On Friday, Tempe police released photographs of Gabriel, believed to have been taken inside a HomeGate motel room in San Antonio, according to the time stamp on the photos.
Johnson was arrested at a youth hostel in Miami Beach, Fla. on Dec. 30. Authorities say she has remained uncooperative about revealing the whereabouts of the child.
On Dec. 27, Johnson told Gabriel’s father, Logan McQueary, through a text phone message and cell phone call that she killed the baby and put the body in a trash bin inside a diaper bag, according to a Maricopa County Superior Court document.
Horn said Friday investigators believe Gabriel is still alive and detectives are not releasing any further information at this time.
“Priority No. 1 remains on finding Gabriel,” Horn said.
Jack and Tammi Smith have said Johnson wanted to give up her baby for adoption but McQueary wouldn’t go along with it. Police believe they are withholding information that could lead them to the baby boy.
Tammi Smith spent Thursday afternoon at Tempe police headquarters. She told members of the media she requested the meeting to try and help police with the investigation.
Johnson remains locked up in Maricopa County’s Estrella jail and is being held on a $1.1 million cash bond.
Tammi Smith visited Johnson in jail on Wednesday, and said that Johnson told her she gave the baby to another couple inside a San Antonio motel room and placed him in their baby car seat before signing papers, claiming the couple knew it was not a legal state adoption.
Johnson was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on Thursday, on felony charges of kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference through a direct complaint filed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, according to court documents.
Johnson’s grandfather, Robert Johnson of Scottsdale, told the Tribune on Friday that he “absolutely” believes his granddaughter gave the baby away, she knows the whereabouts of Gabriel, or at least could put authorities on the trail to recover him.
“We want her to work with these people to bring the baby back,” Johnson said. “We want her to come clean, get her life back on track and move on, and deal with the custody issue later.”
Johnson lost custody of the baby to McQueary when she failed to show up for a custody hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court on Dec. 28.
After graduating from high school in Boston, Johnson had a four-year, full-ride scholarship to Northeastern University in Manchester, N.H., and had once talked about becoming a doctor or a lawyer, her grandfather said.
“She gave it all up,” Johnson said of her college scholarship. “She didn’t like her roommate and quit after two weeks. Good Lord. Logan wouldn’t be the worst person to have that baby. Now, she’s in a helluva mess.”
Crime Stoppers in San Antonio is offering up to a $5,000 reward for anyone who can lead them to Gabriel’s safe return. Crime Stoppers can be reached at (210) 224-7867.
Tips can also be submitted online at www.sacrimestoppers.com, or by text-messaging “Tip 127 plus your tip” to CRIMES (274637).
If anyone knows of Gabriel’s whereabouts, they also can call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.