Special Reports

Vista neighbors join in search for Robert

After a community picnic on Saturday night, Vista neighbors went to the police roadblock on Vista Avenue to see if they could help search for 8-year-old Robert Manwill, who had been missing since the night before.

In the week since, local businesses also have jumped in to help, sending lunches and water to Boise police officers, FBI agents and volunteers. Cutright Care Lawn Service has sent out fliers of the missing boy with its bills, and Domino's pizza delivery folks are handing out fliers with pizzas, said neighborhood activist Kim Bentley, who has lived in the Vista neighborhood for 15 years.

"It's bringing the community together," Bentley said. "People who wouldn't normally talk to a police officer - it's brought citizens and police together."

Vista neighbors will join with volunteers from as far away as New Plymouth on Friday as the Boise Police Department launches a search in which at least 1,000 volunteers will converge on the neighborhood on the Boise Bench. The search could be the biggest in the department's history.

Neighbors initially were shocked to hear that Manwill was missing because crime has been low in the last few years, said Boise police Officer Lance Nickerson, the neighborhood contact officer.

"I've worked this neighborhood for more than 10 years, and I still think it's a great place to live," he said.

Before Manwill went missing, children, including his son Cayden Wells, 5, played in the street together, said Travis Wells, who has lived in the neighborhood for two months after moving from Pocatello. "For something like this to happen, it's scary. Now there are no kids in the street."

Bentley has been out four or five times looking for the boy since he was reported missing. On a recent morning around 7, she and a friend walked over to a storage area to check it out.

"A man came out and asked us what we were doing," she said. "We told him we were looking for Robert. He let us go wherever we wanted."

Bethann Stewart: 377-6393