EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn — When the 12th anniversary of Patrick Alford Jr.’s disappearance arrives Saturday, NYPD investigators from the Missing Persons Squad and Crime Stoppers will be back at the last place the 7-year-old boy was seen: an apartment tower in East New York.
“Patrick Alford went out to throw out the garbage and was never seen again,” NYPD Missing Persons Detective Leiddy Zuber said in a video produced last November.
The video was released the week of Patrick Alford Jr.’s 19th birthday, in November 2021.
But the people closest to Patrick never got the chance to see him grow up, after he vanished on Jan. 22, 2010.
The boy was living in foster care with his younger sister, Jayleen, after the children were removed from the Staten Island household of their biological mother in late 2009, right after Christmas that year.
The foster mom, Librada Moran, told investigators that Patrick was with her when she put out the trash on the 11th floor of 130 Vandalia Avenue in Spring Creek Towers. She said after she briefly turned her head, the boy had vanished.
Investigators initially suspected the biological mother, Jennifer Rodriguez, was involved in the disappearance and they questioned her extensively at a police precinct. But Rodriguez, who was struggling with depression and substance issues at the time, passed a lie detector test.
When PIX11 News met Jennifer Rodriguez at her Staten Island home in 2014, she still had her son’s slippers, sheets and toys stored in a corner of her apartment.
Rodriguez recalled the last time she saw her son, during a supervised visit in mid-January 2010.
“He was throwing a chair and he wouldn’t look at me,” Rodriguez remembered. “‘I want to come home, Mommy,’ he said.”
The boy’s aunt, Blanca Toledo, was present at the same visit.
“His spirit was broken,” Toledo said. “Patrick was distraught.”
Toledo also told us she was shocked the foster mother spoke little English.
“I said ‘What?” Toledo recalled. “Patrick and Jayleen don’t speak Spanish.”
The boy reportedly had threatened to run away so he could be reunited with his mother. Police dogs tracked his scent to a bus stop not far from the towers.
Ray Kelly was NYPD Commissioner at the time Patrick Alford Jr. disappeared, and once recounted that 14,000 interviews were conducted in the case and 9,000 apartments entered. The Spring Creek complex has 46 buildings. Local sex offenders were among the people questioned, and nearby creeks and other bodies of water were dredged.
At least one investigator said the child may have been taken out of the United States.
Two years after Patrick’s disappearance, the boy’s father, Patrick Alford Sr., was shot in the head during a robbery in East New York. The father was left partially paralyzed and was living in a nursing home in the Bronx when PIX11 News met him in 2014.
Alford said he believed he was targeted, because robbers thought he was stashing tens of thousands of dollars in reward money at his home.
In recent years, a $6 million trust was set up for the missing boy, after his family won a federal lawsuit against the city and a foster care agency. A portion of that money, $250,000, was earmarked for a reward, if someone came forward with information that led to Patrick’s whereabouts.
Apparently, there’s still no takers.
Patrick Alford Jr.’s mother has moved out of state, dealing again with another year of pain — a dozen years after she last saw her son.