Officials have now transitioned their search for a missing 5-year-old boy from rescue to recovery after an investigation led TBI agents to arrest and charge the boy's father with his death.
For four days, volunteers and community members helped law enforcement search day-and-night for 5-year-old Joe Clyde Daniels, who they believed had wandered off from his Tennessee City home in the early hours of April 4.
At a press conference on Saturday morning, TBI officials announced the boy's father, Joseph Daniels, 28, has been arrested and charged earlier that day on one count of criminal homicide for the death of his son.
Daniels was booked into Dickson Co. Jail on a $1,000,000 bond.
Officials said after days of searching, the 23rd District Attorney Ray Crouch requested the TBI search the Daniels' home for evidence of criminal misconduct.
That investigation led officials to arrest and charge Daniels, who they believe intentionally killed Joe Clyde in the early hours of April 3-4 and hid his body.
Search and rescue teams looked over ponds for a third time on Friday, trying to leave no area unchecked.
Joe Clyde is autistic and nonverbal, so detectives are calling in every resource they can to find him. He disappeared from his home off Garners Creek Road sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Volunteers are looking at least three miles away for clues.
"I want to keep good thoughts. I want to keep that he's still out there and he's still alive and hopefully know how to adapt to his surroundings and survive," said Danielle Worman, a volunteer from Nashville. "It's hard when there's sick people in the world and you don't know what to expect."
Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe said on Friday morning that searches had found three footprints in the search area that may be those of Joe Clyde.
"We've had some people come forward with what they thought looked like a footprint, so each time we get a lead like that, we're going to take a look at it, we're going to photograph it," said Bledsoe. "We're going to see if it takes us anywhere."
Deputies are asking people who live in the area to check around their property in barns or sheds, just in case the boy is hiding there.
Earlier Friday Bledsoe also said that a search dog had found a scent of Joe Clyde.
Bledsoe believed that Joe Clyde may have been walking along the road, which would explain how he got so far away from home.
Bledsoe said on Friday afternoon that the department is utilizing a drone to help in the search for Joe Clyde.
Searchers with specialized training have also been employed in the search.
Officials searched through the night for Joe Clyde and volunteers resumed searching on Friday morning for the third day.
Bledsoe said Friday morning the search area for Joe Clyde has been extended 3-4 miles from his home.
At this point, officials said they believe Joe Clyde got out by finding a key hidden by his parents and unlocking the door.
Bledsoe said Joe Clyde had escaped his home at least three other times but he's usually found soon afterward.
Joe Clyde is said to be non-verbal and autistic. He has blond hair and blue eyes and is 4 feet tall, weighing approximately 65 pounds. He was last seen wearing skeleton pajamas and was not wearing shoes.
On Thursday morning, Bledsoe said there was a confirmed sighting of the boy on Wednesday morning near his house.
On Thursday afternoon, Bledsoe said they have expanded the search beyond a one-mile radius of the Daniels' home.
He said search groups will be limited to two officers and 10 volunteers and they will be searching in grids.
After nightfall, volunteers are sent home while trained professional remain out searching.
Bledsoe said they didn't want volunteers searching at night so they wouldn't get lost or injured.
Bledsoe has asked hunters who have game cameras in the area to check to see if there is footage of Joe Clyde in the area.
Bledsoe said they are still hopeful that they will find the 5-year-old and are still considering this a search and recovery mission.
"I'm not going to give up hope. There's faith from other cases across the country where kids went missing and we consider them endangered due to the elements and the weather that there's somewhere he may be laying and warm and just waiting on somebody to find him," Bledsoe said.
Hundreds of volunteers gathered to help with the search on Thursday morning. Anyone else who wants to help is being asked to stay home for now. Officials will post an update on social media when they need more volunteers. All volunteers will be required to sign in and show identification.
On Wednesday evening, Bledsoe asked volunteers to quit searching for the night so that professionals could use their higher skill sets to continue the search in the dark.
"Time is working against us, but we are going to put our resources on everything we have, everything is going to be all in as we search tonight," said Bledsoe shortly before nightfall on Wednesday.
At one point on Wednesday, there were at least 200 volunteers searching for the missing child. The search began around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"He's out here all alone cold, scared and probably hungry," said William Nicholson, Joe Clyde's uncle. "We need everybody who can come out here, please help out and try to save this little boy, try to find him and get him back home with his loved ones."
"I can't imagine what that family is feeling right now," said neighbor Dawn Reynolds. "You know, there's no words to put, the way they feel, and my heart breaks because you know, you hope and pray, that he comes home and we find him."
Emergency responders have been using helicopters, K-9 officers and dive crews to search the many nearby lakes and ponds.
"If it's at nighttime and it's dark and he scared and he's running, or whatever the situation, he could be terrified right now ... so much open land and ponds, it's hard to even fathom the situation," said family friend Lyndsay Estes.
Bledsoe said anyone wishing to volunteer should check the Dickson County Sheriff's Office Facebook page to check when people are needed. He said they have been overwhelmed with volunteers and can only take a certain number at a time. He asks people not to try searching on their own.
Police are asking everyone in the area to keep a lookout for the boy. Anyone who sees him or knows of his whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Dickson County Sheriff's Office at 615-446-8041, ext. 0.
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