A St. Louis-area volunteer search team hopes to accomplish Saturday what Pekin-area police and other searchers haven’t for nearly seven months, find Robert Bee Jr.
A local group that’s hunted woods and waterways for the missing 13-year-old boy recruited Trucks 4 Kidz Missouri and Illinois after learning the trained volunteers have located every one of the 38 missing children they’ve sought over two years, all but one alive.
Anthony Accardi knows the Bee case will be the toughest challenge yet for the group he directs.
“This one is different,” said Accardi, 26. “It’s a bigger puzzle — a big, big puzzle.”
To tackle it, about 20 members of the non-profit group, including some with military and police backgrounds, will use a team of professionally trained dogs to hunt for Bee, or his remains, throughout Saturday, Accardi said.
“We’ve pinpointed where we’ll search,” he said, but declined to identify the locations. The city Police Department “will be notified step by step” of their progress.
Accardi and Mary Jane Richards of Tremont, who directs the informal search group that recruited Trucks 4 Kids, said police were notified of that group’s search plans two weeks ago. The department hadn’t heard of those plans before Tuesday, said police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles.
Regardless, the department has no objections to Trucks 4 Kidz’ efforts to find Bee, who’s been missing since Nov. 18, the day after he ran from his home at 203 Sapp St. when police and a truant officer came to take him to school.
“We’re a very respectful group,” that will observe the police requirement not to tread on private property without permission, Accardi said.
The group will depart Saturday night after they arrive that morning and establish a mobile command center at the Salvation Army station on Derby Street, near the home Bee shared with his mother.
“We will return,” Accardi said, after assessing what the searchers accomplished Saturday. “We want to bring this child home.”
Richards said her group, named Team Bonzai after Bee’s middle name, is comprised of six woman and their husbands and friends who have searched for the boy each weekend since he disappeared.
It is not affiliated with another group led by Stephanie Clauser, Bee’s adult sister. Clauser said Wednesday she will speak to Accardi and his search team when they arrive Saturday.
“Every case is different” in terms of search tactics that include “knocking on doors, going into fields and woods, Accardi said.
Trucks 4 Kidz branched into a search service for missing children after forming in 2012, to help needy families in the St. Louis area, Accardi said. It has located 37, all of them runaways, the longest one missing for 13 days, he said. Another child, missing for several months, was found drowned in woods that had flooded.
Richards said donations of items such as water, ice, food and gas money for the Trucks 4 Kids group can be dropped off at the Mattress Doctor stores in Pekin and Mackinaw.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin