FLORENCE — Local authorities want to know why a boy appears to be offered for sale on Craigslist.
Police said the Craigslist post is a photo of a boy they believe to be 12-14 years old, accompanied with “Joyfull little boy (real) needing a good home, and caring people to be around.” The post lists the cost for the boy at $1,200 and indicates the boy, the post or both are in Florence.
Craigslist is an online ad site much like a classified section is to a newspaper.
“We have tried to identify the boy and haven’t had any luck,” Florence police detective Lt. Mike Holt said. “We even tried to contact whoever made the post, but were unsuccessful at that also.”
Holt said the department was notified of the posting last week.
“We’re taking this serious at this point. We can’t afford not to,” Holt said. “This could be a kid messing around, pulling a prank. But it could be something horrible.”
Florence police detective Keith Johnson said he was notified last Monday of the boy’s photo and the posting from someone who happened to find it.
“The person was on Craigslist looking around and happened to go under ‘antiques for sale’ and this photo of this boy pops up,” Johnson said.
He said the listing is under Florence/Muscle Shoals Craigslist items.
Holt said detectives have done all they can to try and identify this boy and make sure he is OK.
“We have checked missing persons and there are none that match this boy, and we’ve checked other areas,” Holt said.
Johnson said he contacted all of the juvenile authorities in the region, as well as school systems in Lauderdale, Colbert and Franklin counties.
“A couple of places I was told the photo looked familiar but nobody was sure who it was,” Johnson said. “Someone has to know who this boy is.”
He said the Lauderdale County Department of Human Resources was contacted, and it put out a statewide alert trying to identify the boy.
“Unfortunately, people do put kids’ photos out there on websites offering them for sexual encounters,” Holt said. “And right now, we don’t know if someone is trying to sell this kid for sex, human trafficking or what.”
Holt said it’s hard to fathom that something like that could and does happen.
“The reality is that it does go on,” Holt said. “That’s why we need to find out who this boy is. We have to make sure he is OK.
“If it’s a prank, that needs to be addressed also. But first and foremost, we have to identify this boy.”
Anyone knowing the boy’s identity or anything about the posting should call 256-768-2728.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.