San Antonio police gearing up to search landfill for Baby Gabriel

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SAN ANTONIO -- Police in San Antonio are getting ready to search part of a landfill for Baby Gabriel, the Tempe baby who has been missing for nearly two months.

Over the weekend, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus announced that the investigation was now a kidnapping and homicide.

Investigators are quick to say that they have no proof that Gabriel Johnson is actually dead, but the baby's mother did tell his father early on that she had killed the child. She later retracted that statement and told investigators she gave Gabriel to a San Antonio couple.

McManus said labeling the case a homicide is a procedural move that will allow officers to move forward with the investigation, including searching the landfill.

"We do remain hopefule that Baby Gabriel is alive," McManus said during a news conference Tuesday morning.

Bad weather has so far hampered the planned search, which has been in the works for some time. That search is expected to get under way today. It will focus on a relatively small area of the 1,000-acre facility.

The 8-month-old baby was last seen with his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, in San Antonio on Dec. 26. Johnson, 23, was arrested in Florida a few days later and then extradited to Arizona where she now sits behind bars at the Fourth Avenue Jail. So far, she's only been charged with kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Police said Johnson has not been cooperating with investigators.

Johnson fled the state with the baby when his father, Logan McQueary, was awarded custody of the child.

McQueary is in San Antonio, as is world-renowned private investigator Jay J. Armes, who specializes in missing-persons cases. Even though a search for the baby's body is imminent, Armes believes the child was the center of an underground adoption.

Police said they are aware of underground adotion rings

During a news conference Tuesday morning, McManus said 45 feet of debris would be removed in a process that would take at least six days. After that, officers will begin the search phase, carefully sifting through layers of debris for possible evidence. Cadaver dogs will be brought in during that operation. Once the search phase begins, crews will be out Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

McManus urged anybody who might have information about the case to call 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678).