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Missing Maryland Boy Found Safe by Riverside Police

June 25, 2004|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

A 10-year-old boy allegedly abducted by his mother in Maryland eight months ago was found in good condition Thursday by Riverside police.

Police arrested the boy's mother, Margarita Maria Peterson, 35, on Tuesday, but the boy remained missing when his mother declined to reveal his whereabouts.

After an appeal by police, a friend of Peterson's turned over the woman's son, Rayon Gray, to authorities Thursday afternoon. The boy is in the custody of Riverside County Child Protective Services, and will be reunited with his father.

"I'll get out there as soon as I can," said the boy's father, also named Rayon Gray. "This is a wonderful day. I feel a lot better. I hadn't slept in the two days [my son] had been missing after her arrest. There's something wrong with that woman."

Peterson allegedly abducted her son Oct. 18 after visiting him at her mother's home in Baltimore. She had limited visitation rights under the terms of a court-approved custody agreement.

Gray, a baker, said he waited until midnight for Peterson to return with his son, and alerted authorities after learning that she had cleaned out her bedroom and was gone.

"I've been looking for my son ever since, with a lot of help from a lot of friends, including the police," the boy's father said.

Peterson is being held in Riverside County Jail on suspicion of child abduction, and is scheduled to be extradited to Maryland, Riverside police said.

Peterson's arrest was the result of a tip by an elementary school pupil in Covina who watched a May 22 episode of "America's Most Wanted" that detailed Rayon Gray's disappearance. The Covina student reported Rayon had been a classmate, and Covina police later established that Rayon left the school in December.

By checking DMV records, police found that Peterson had obtained a driver's license in Riverside in April. Police then found that Peterson had applied for welfare assistance. The Department of Social Services in Riverside contacted Peterson to arrange a meeting, where she was arrested by police.

Riverside detectives made contact with the male friend of Peterson's, who cooperated with instructions to turn over the boy.

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