- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Three boys who disappeared Wednesday and were the subject of a massive search effort were found dead yesterday in the trunk of a car parked in a driveway next to the yard where they were last seen.

The bodies of Jesstin Pagan, 5; Daniel Agosto, 6; and Anibal Cruz, 11, were discovered shortly before 7 p.m. by the father of one of the boys.

Yolanda DeNeely Aguilard, an aide to Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, confirmed that the bodies had been found. She had no immediate information on how the boys died.

A neighbor, Carmen Cilla, said she saw David Agosto open the trunk of the maroon Toyota and collapse to his knees screaming. Police rushed to the scene and immediately cordoned off the property with yellow crime scene tape and draped white sheets over the tape to shield the car from view.

The families of three missing boys had made a tearful plea for their safe return yesterday, and authorities posted a $9,000 reward for information.

The boys had vanished from the yard next to Anibal’s home on Wednesday evening. Elba Cruz, Anibal’s mother, said she was watching the boys play in the yard when she went inside for a few minutes. When she returned, the boys were gone.

About 150 law-enforcement officials, including officers on boats, in helicopters, on all-terrain vehicles and using tracking dogs, spread out yesterday in a search focused on a 3-square-mile area where the boys were last seen.

A police dog had tracked a scent taken from clothing belonging to one of the boys to an overgrown wooded area along the Delaware. The dog led police along a meandering path that eventually led to the river, but there was no sign of the children.

Last fall, Camden was ranked the most dangerous city in the United States in a reference book that compares crime statistics.

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