For more than two months after 13-year-old Robert Bee Jr. ran from a truant officer visiting his home, police investigated hundreds of tips and leads about his disappearance.
Now, days from the mystery’s quarter-year mark, those tips are drying up.
“They’re definitely getting fewer,” Pekin Police Public Information officer Billie Ingles said Monday. “There’s really not been anything new.”
Nothing has changed, as well, in the debris-strewn front yard of Bee’s home at 233 Sapp St., where a small bike lays on the grass near two parked vehicles, all with deflating tires, and garbage from an overturned trash bin.
“It’s been like that since I moved in” to a house across the street a month ago, said neighbor Lee Hutchinson.
“Every night, all the lights go on” in the house. “But no one’s there anymore.”
Lisa Bee, Robert’s mother, was served an eviction notice in mid-January, according to court records.
“We don’t know if she’s still in town or not,” though police still have her cellphone number, Ingles said.
Robert Bee bolted from the house on Nov. 17 when a truant officer and a police officer arrived to take the boy, who had skipped classes before, to school and serve his mother with a truancy ordinance violation. He took neither his bike nor medication reportedly prescribed for seizures.
Lisa Bee reported Robert missing when the truancy officer returned the next day, then for several days posted requests to help find her son on her Facebook page.
In following days and weeks, police tracked leads throughout central Illinois, hoping to find Robert living with other relatives or friends. Other leads took them to vehicles and properties, locally and throughout central Illinois, as well as to homes of known sexual offenders, police have said.
Concerned citizens called for more searches and conducted their own. They’ve traded information on a Facebook page created for that purpose.
In one case, a Manito woman was cited for obstructing justice in early January for allegedly giving police a promising tip that, she later admitted on the page, was a false lead to prompt to police to investigate a suspicious house.
None of the leads has proven worthy of the $1,000 reward police still offer for credible information leading to Bee’s whereabouts.
Lisa Bee, meanwhile, was found in violation of the truancy ordinance when she failed to appear in court on Jan. 3. Her $386 bill in fine and fees has been referred to a collection agency.
Bee’s disappearance, so far, recalls a similar Pekin case now 45 years old. Richard Griener, then 13, vanished after he went sledding in January 1972.
“That bothers me — that we were never able to resolve that case,” Police Chief Tim Gillespie said as he retired in 2009 after 39 years with the city department.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin