Details of Disappearance
Garnell was residing in Baltimore, Maryland with his paternal aunt, Belinda Cash, when he was last seen sometime during August 2002. One of his great-aunts, Trina Morton, who was nine months pregnant at the time, recalls seeing him playing outside Cash's home on Harlem Street. Morton was raising Garnell's half-sister and Garnell frequently visited them at their home. She made arrangements for Garnell to visit her the next weekend, but then she went into labor and could not see him.
About a week later, Morton asked Cash if she could reschedule Garnell's visit, but Cash told her it was an inconvenient time, as she was in the process of moving. Garnell has not been heard from since. The next time Morton called, the number was disconnected, and the address Cash was supposedly moving to turned out to be fictitious.
Garnell's parents never raised him; his mother is in prison and his father led a transient lifestyle. He spent his earliest years with his paternal relatives in the 3700 block of Harlem Avenue on the west side of Baltimore. Cash, who is childless, took Garnell into her home when he was six years old. It was an informal arrangement and she never had legal custody of him. He was never enrolled in any school and never came in contact with any social service agencies.
Garnell's father did occasionally visit him. He says he last saw his son at Easter, about a year after Morton last saw him, when he went to a family gathering in the 1000 block of Ellicott Drive, about a mile and a half northeast of Cash's previous address.
In 2005, Morton contacted one of Cash's relatives to ask about Garnell, and the relative told her they hadn't seen Garnell with Cash in years. That summer, Morton was eventually able to locate Cash at her home at a public housing development in the 4000 block of Frederick Road, and asked to see Garnell. Cash claimed he was away on a school field trip to Virginia, but school was not in session at the time and in any case, Garnell was not an enrolled student.
Garnell was officially reported missing on July 1, 2005, but the police didn't actually begin investigating his case until March 2006. When questioned, Cash told police she she fell on hard times and was unable to care for Garnell anymore, so she abandoned him on the steps of a social services building in the 500 block of north Hilton Street near Edmondson Avenue in West Baltimore.
When police spoke to employees at the social services office, no one had any idea who Garnell was and no one could recall seeing a boy sitting on the steps. They checked nearby residences and Garnell wasn't living in any of them.
When authorities interviewed Cash's neighbors on Old Frederick Road, where Cash had lived off and on for several years, the neighbors remembered Garnell and said Cash called him her son. They said, however, that they hadn't seen the child since 2001. Police searched her old residence on Harlem Street and found no evidence as to Garnell's whereabouts.
Cash voluntarily took a lie detector test and showed no signs of deception except on one question, which wouldn't have implicated her in a crime. She has no known history of child abuse or neglect, and no significant criminal record.
The circumstances surrounding Garnell's disappearance are extremely murky. Investigators do not necessarily believe he came to harm, and think someone may have taken him in and cared for him, but they are concerned for his safety and would like to verify his well-being.