Search intensifies for toddler who disappeared from campsite near Rimrock

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Syler Newton By Jennifer Thomas Syler Newton By Jennifer Thomas
By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron
Syler Newton By Jennifer Thomas Syler Newton By Jennifer Thomas
Photo of campsite By Jennifer Thomas Photo of campsite By Jennifer Thomas

RIMROCK, Ariz. - Search and rescue teams are in the Arizona wilderness looking for a Flagstaff toddler who disappeared from his family's campsite.

The search is going on around the Beaver Creek Campground just north of Rimrock and 3TV has learned there has been a twist in the search.

Originally, 2-year-old Sylar Newton was thought to have gone missing while camping with his mother, grandmother and siblings. Yavapai County sheriff’s deputies now tell 3TV the woman who reported the boy missing is his custodial mom, Christina Priem. She told deputies that she is in the process of legally adopting Sylar, who has been in her care for several months.

It is unclear what role that plays in this situation. Deputies say they are still operating under the assumption that Sylar just wandered away from the campground.

The Flagstaff family went to the campsite on Friday. According to Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, Priem claims she last saw Sylar around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. He was sleeping in a tent with Priem, her mother, Nancy Collins, and Priem's 12-year-old daughter.

Priem's 14-year-old son and his 14-year-old friend were sleeping in an adjacent tent.

At approximately 1:45 a.m., Priem found Sylar missing and conducted a search before calling 911.

Family members called 911 at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday. The call originated with the Sedona Fire Department and was apparently lost after transfer to YCSO Communications.

D'Evelyn said a call from the camp host at the Beaver Creek Campground was made to YCSO at 2:30 a.m. and deputies arrived just prior to 3 a.m.

Deputies contacted and spoke with more than 25 campers who were on site at the time of Sylar's disappearance. Non-family member campers told deputies they saw Sylar at the campsite at approximately 9 p.m. on Saturday.

As of Sunday, the campground was cleared of all visitors to allow search crews to continue their work.

The boy has light brown hair, blue eyes and he was only wearing a diaper. He is about 3 feet tall and weighs approximately 20 pounds.

“We're obviously very concerned about a 2-year-old wandering around up in this wilderness area," D'Evelyn said. "We've brought in over 50 rescue personnel including bloodhounds, horses, we've had helicopter flyovers by DPS Ranger, ATV, tracking teams and on and on to try and locate this child."

The search continues in full force, but the new information that there was some sort of custody issue going on between the boy's biological parents and the woman who was with him at the campground should play a part in this investigation.

Bloodhounds have been given a piece of Sylar's clothing for tracking. Investigators are looking into foul play and are not ruling anything out at this point.

On Sunday, detectives removed two vehicles and property from Sylar's campsite and those items will be examined over the next few days.