2012-03-30 / Front PageThirty-one years later Detective: ‘Not giving up on Taj’
STORY BY DIANE C. BEAUDOIN
Taj was 10 years old at the time of his disappearance from his Naples Street home sometime during the night.
The blond, blue-eyed child has never been seen or heard from since that fateful night.
Leominster Detective Patrick Aubuchon has taken charge of the case, and over the years, has retraced steps taken back at the time of Taj’s disappearance in 1981.
Aubuchon did received a tip of photographs on a website several months back that resembled a young Taj. The photographs were sent to the FBI laboratory where recently they came back with a response that the photos were not of the missing boy.
“Talk about disappointment,” Aubuchon began.
The detective was hoping that the photos would have come back with a positive identification, as that would have meant Taj may not have been murdered.
“One frustrating thing with this case is police work was different back then. There were no Amber Alerts, or sites for missing and exploited children, which could have helped. The first week he was gone, this was treated as a runaway case, and nothing was started for that whole time,” he explained.
After pouring over reports and accounts of what happened that night, Aubuchon said a few things struck him that lead to Dean being a person of interest.
“The landlord of the apartment house they lived in said his shovel was missing the next day, and also Annette said she found Dean’s raincoat that had a lot of mud on it. These are things that were not followed up on,” Aubuchon said.
Dean was never charged in the case, and after some time, he was arrested on other crimes and has spent many years in prison. He has been diagnosed with mental illness and is currently hospitalized in a state hospital.
Requests for a visit to Dean have to date been unsuccessful.
Taj’s information has been on several websites dedicated to missing and exploited children, all hoping for a lead to solve the case.
“I see and think about this case everyday hoping that we can find him,” Aubuchon expressed.
A bin sits in the detective room filled with items that either belonged to Taj or are relevant to the case, but the puzzle has never been totally put together.
According to previous interviews with Annette, she said the last time she saw her son, he was in his pajamas and gone to bed. The next morning she went into his room to wake him for school, and he was gone. His slippers and shoes were still in the room, and no other clothing was reported missing. She also stated she heard nothing unusual during the night that would lead her to believe anything was wrong. Annette was eight months pregnant at the time of Taj’s disappearance.
This is Leominster’s only missing child case, and even if it is considered a cold case, there is always the possibility a lead or tip will come in to close the book on what happened to young Taj.
“We will treat all tips as confidential and act on them immediately,” Aubuchon has said.
If anyone has any recollections of that night in 1981, or knows anything, no matter how insignificant it may appear to be, they are asked to contact the Leominster Police Department.
“I really think there are people out there that may know something to help this case out, and help us to find out what happened to this boy. It’s been a long time and many years have passed, but we are not giving up on finding Taj,” Aubuchon concluded.