Details of Disappearance
Hassani was reportedly last seen in the Rockridge district of Oakland, California at 4:15 p.m. on August 10, 2009. His foster father, Louis Ross, said he left the child outside his vehicle, a 2002 BMW, in the back parking lot of Shuz, a shoe store in the 6000 block of College Avenue. Ross was dropping off Hassani and his one-year-old sister, Aaliyah, to be with his fiancee, Jennifer Campbell.
Jennifer is the children's aunt and foster mother, and she managed the Shuz store. Photos of Ross and Jennifer are posted with this case summary. Ross took Aaliyah and went ahead to unlock the store door. When he returned to the vehicle, Hassani was gone. An extensive search of the neighborhood turned up no sign of him. Owing to his cerebral palsy, he couldn't have gone very far on his own.
Hassani had been living with his foster parents since December 2008, as his biological mother has health problems and substance abuse problems. Hassani's foster parents were reportedly taking legal steps to adopt him when he disappeared. The state division of Children and Family Services had no problems with the couple as foster parents, and noted they conscientiously looked after Hassani's medical needs. He was a student at James Leitch Elementary School in 2009.
After the child was reported missing, police impounded Ross's BMW, took Aaliyah into protective custody and served search warrants on his foster parents' home in the 5900 block of Roxie Terrace in Fremont, California. Ross took a polygraph test, which he failed; Jennifer refused take a test, saying she was pregnant and was worried the test would affect the fetus.
Authorities stated there were incidents of domestic violence in the couple's relationship, and Ross had misgivings about raising a disabled child. According to court documents, Ross also once left Hassani and his sister alone at home while he went to the bank. On July 31, ten days before Hassani disappeared, Ross sent an angry text message to Jennifer threatening to abandon the child on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) platform. He later stated he had simply been angry at Jennifer and had no intention of leaving Hassani anywhere.
Police expressed skepticism of Ross's account of Hassani's disappearance. The child supposedly vanished in the middle of a busy business district crowded with people, but nobody saw anything unusual, and tracker dogs could not find Hassani's scent at the site where he was supposedly last seen.
The family's neighbors stated they hadn't seen Hassani since about two weeks before his disappearance was reported. In the investigation, police determined the last time Hassani was seen by anyone other than his foster parents was on August 6, at a Wal-Mart store in Fremont.
On August 28, eighteen days after Hassani's disappearance, his foster parents were arrested on suspicion of murder. Authorities intended to charge Ross with murder and Jennifer as an accessory. However, Jennifer was released on August 31 and Ross on September 1 after prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to file charges against them.
Both of them maintain their innocence, but they remain the prime suspects in Hassani's disappearance. In November 2009, after Jennifer gave birth to a daughter, she and Ross ended their relationship and moved out of their Fremont home.
Authorities are no longer actively searching for Hassani, stating they don't know where to look. Although Ross and Jennifer maintain he was abducted from Oakland, police continue to believe he was murdered by his foster parents. His case remains unsolved.