TAMPA — A four-hour search for a missing 10-year-old ended quietly Friday afternoon when the boy sauntered out of a Tampa apartment where he had been hiding most of the day.
Keondraye Williams went missing about 7:15 a.m. after leaving his home in the Meridian Pointe apartments at 2450 Hillsborough Ave. to catch a school bus to Foster Elementary School, police said. He never showed up for class.
A teacher at the school who knows the boy's mother called about 9:30 a.m. to tell her that Keondraye had not arrived, police said. After searching for him on her own for a few minutes, his mother flagged down Tampa police Officer Levi Newton, who was patrolling the complex.
An Amber Alert was issued. Officers quickly printed flyers with Keondraye's picture and distributed them at the complex. They talked to drivers heading into and out of the apartment gates and looked in car trunks for any sign of the missing child. Overhead, a helicopter circled.
"Obviously, we're very concerned about his welfare," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. "We certainly hope that he's with a friend somewhere playing Xbox."
As it turned out, that wasn't far off the mark.
Just after 1:30 p.m., an apartment door opened, and Keondraye, sporting his white-collared school uniform shirt and carrying a backpack full of school supplies, stepped into the breezeway of Building No. 5.
Newton, who was still combing the area, spotted the boy and recognized him.
Keondraye said he had missed the bus that morning. Having ignited his mother's wrath the last time he missed the bus, he decided to just skip school. He went to a friend's apartment, where a 16-year-old girl who was also skipping school allowed him to hide out while she slept.
The boy watched TV all day, unaware of the vast effort unfolding just outside the door. When he spoke with the officers, he began to cry. He asked for his mother.
Later on, TV cameras surrounded the woman as she hustled Keondraye into a car.
"I'm glad that I found my son," said the woman, who declined to give her name to reporters. "That's all I have to say."
She hopped into the driver's seat and drove away.
Dan Sullivan can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Times Dan.