Special Reports

The search for Robert Manwill: Boise police continue investigation but reveal no breaks in the case

Trish Burrill, Robert Manwill's aunt, speaks during a press conference
Saturday afternoon.
Trish Burrill, Robert Manwill's aunt, speaks during a press conference Saturday afternoon. Idaho Statesman

Boise police officials did not say Saturday if they recovered any pertinent evidence at a home in the 6600 block of Southdale Avenue in their search for missing 8-year-old Robert Manwill.

That search, done in the backyard of a home near the Five Mile/Amity Road neighborhood in southern Ada County, was done by Ada County Sheriff’s and Idaho State Police investigators, who were aided by Boise State University officials with ground-penetrating radar on Friday night and Saturday morning, Boise Police Deputy Chief Jim Kerns said.

“Our leads are narrowing and becoming more specific,” Kerns said Saturday. “The Southdale residence became an area of interest due to a developing lead in the investigation — that location is one of many areas of interest.”

Manwill was reported missing to Boise police shortly after 10 p.m. July 24 from an Vista Avenue-area apartment complex. Boise police officials say they have undisclosed evidence indicating that Robert may have been injured and possibly the “victim of a tragic event,” but have not yet been able to find him.

An area of the Hidden Hollow landfill, near Northwest Boise, has been isolated by police tape in case authorities needed to search trash dumped last weekend, but that area remained unstaffed Saturday morning.

The man whose Boise home and yard were searched Friday night for evidence related to Manwill's disappearance says he knows the 8-year-old's family but has no idea what may have happened to him or what police are looking for at his rental home.

Kerns said Saturday investigators continue to investigate leads and could search the same areas multiple times as they investigate those leads.

Manwill’s mother’s apartment off Vista Avenue — where the boy was reported missing — has been searched twice since Thursday. Kerns also has declined to say what evidence was taken from there.

A makeshift memorial for Robert — consisting of several stuff animals, melted candles, and bible, green ribbons, and a few pictures and notes hoping for the 8-year-old boy's safe return — sprung up Friday on the sidewalk across from Melissa Jenkins' apartment. On Saturday afternoon, a few prayer candles were still lit.

For the second day in a row the boy’s mother, Melissa Jenkins, and her boyfriend, Daniel Ehrlick Jr., have not attended the daily police press conference. Ehrlick was admitted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Friday for an undisclosed reason, but was treated and released.

Family spokeswoman Trish Burrill, Robert’s aunt, seemed to address Jenkins’ absence when she told reporters Saturday that “every member of Robert’s family, whether you see them or not, we are very close ... and we are all doing everything we can do to bring Robert home.”

Burrill and Kerns both thanked the more than 2,000 volunteers who helped police search within a 2-mile radius of the Vista neighborhood Friday.

“Yesterday’s volunteer search was a major, major step in helping us confirm some (leads), to discount others, and help investigators to narrow their focus,” Kerns said.

While the volunteer effort is over, dozens of investigators are continuing to work the case this weekend and follow up all pertinent leads, Kerns said.

“Much of that investigation is happening away from the lens of media cameras,” Kerns said. “Trying to find Robert is an hour-by-hour effort.”

Burrill continued to ask for community support in the search for her nephew.

“We know the police have to narrow their search, but you may continue to help up us by posting fliers, wearing ribbons and continuing to talk about Robert,” Burrill said.

Kerns said the Boise police continue to be assisted by all Treasure Valley law enforcement organizations and the FBI.

Many officers are working overtime. Boise Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said there has been no limit on overtime as Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has told the police to do what they need to do to find the boy.

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