LAS VEGAS (AP) - The grandfather of a kidnapped 6-year-old boy was named Friday as a "person of interest" in a nationwide search for the child and his abductors, who are believed to be Mexican drug dealers.
Clemens Fred "Clem" Tinnemeyer, 51, was involved in drug dealing with "Mexican nationals," from whom he may have stolen millions of dollars, Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito said. Cannito called the boy's kidnapping at gunpoint a "message" from the drug dealers to Tinnemeyer.
"Tinnemeyer has stolen a large sum of money, all proceeds from illegal drug activity," Cannito said.
"Message sent, message received," Cannito said of the boy's Wednesday morning abduction by three Hispanic men who posed as
police officers to gain entry into the home where young Cole Puffinburger lived with his family.
"They got the attention of an entire nation. We will not stop looking for this child."
The FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Drug Enforcement Administration were involved in the investigation, police said.
A nationwide Amber Alert remained in effect for Puffinburger, a blond-haired, blue-eyed first-grader with silver-framed glasses. He was described as 3 feet 11 inches tall and 48 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black shirt, a black zip-up sweat shirt with white, black and blue stars, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Cannito said authorities were looking for Tinnemeyer and his white 2004 Dodge extended-cab pickup truck, which he said bore Mississippi license plates KA6251. He was described as 5-foot-10 and 210 to 250 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.
Tinnemeyer's last known address was in Las Vegas. He was last seen by family members in May but phoned family members in August.
He was reported missing Sept. 11, said Officer Cris Johnson, a Las
Vegas police spokesman.
Johnson said police believed the type of drugs involved was methamphetamine. He declined to say what role Timmemeyer played in
the drug operation, or whether the kidnappers were seeking a ransom.
"Money is a huge factor, obviously. Drugs are a huge factor," Johnson said. "The only innocent person involved in this entire operation is the boy."
Authorities were investigating whether other family members also had ties to the drug operation, Johnson said.
Cannito said police were working 12-hour shifts around the clock, and had "several" other persons of interest in the case, but no suspects in the abduction.
Investigators have said two Hispanic men identified themselves as police officers to gain entry to the house in a residential neighborhood several miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas. They demanded money and tied up the boy's mother and her boyfriend, and ransacked the house before making off with the boy. Cannito said a third man was believed to be involved.
Authorities offered a vague description of one suspect - a man in his early 30s with slicked-back, black shoulder-length hair. He was said to be about 5 feet 7 inches tall and 150 pounds, wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.
Police had no description of the other men or a getaway car, which delayed the initial posting of the statewide alert.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)