CLARKSBURG, Md. - Montgomery County police found remains on Tuesday that they believe are a missing boy whose mother was discovered beaten and stabbed to death last week, and the child's stepfather is the primary suspect in his death, authorities said.
Investigators discovered the remains of a young, African-American child Tuesday morning in a wooded area off of Route 121, a quarter mile west of Route 355 in Montgomery County after a search that spanned 30,000 acres.
"And we believe those remains to be William McQuain," Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said at a press conference. "But, again, our forensic investigation is just beginning."
Manger said police do not know when or where the murder occurred. He said the body did show some signs of trauma.
The younger McQuain was last seen Sept. 30, authorities said.
Authorities began searching for William after Jane McQuain was found dead in the bedroom of her Germantown condominium Oct. 12.
Her estranged husband, Curtis Maurice Lopez, was arrested in Charlotte, N.C. the following morning at an Econo Lodge. He has been charged in her death. Lopez has waived his extradition and is due back in Montgomery County.
Lopez is the main suspect in William McQuain's death, but authorities must first conclusively determine the child's identity before charging him with murder, said Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman.
It was not immediately clear if Lopez has an attorney.
A search warrant drawn up by Charlotte police says officers found a box cutter knife and nine $100 bills in his motel room. Police also found 18 copies of a marriage certificate inside McQuain's car, which was parked in the EconoLodge parking lot.
The car was involved in an accident in Charlotte one night before the woman's body was found, according to the search warrant. The driver of McQuain's car was a woman who police say was found with Lopez at the motel. The woman, identified as 24-year-old Pleshette Marie Caldwell, told police she was driving her boyfriend's mother's car and that the mother's name was Jane. The account on the cell phone number she provided belongs to Lopez, the police said.
No phone listing for Caldwell could immediately be found.
Police recently obtained surveillance footage from a Germantown storage facility that shows Lopez and the boy together on the morning of Oct. 1.
"The footage shows William appearing to be in a playful mood and so it does not appear that he was under any distress," Manger said. "He appeared to be running around as you would expect a boy that age to do."
The suspect and McQuain appear together twice on the surveillance footage, Manger said.
Manger said it may be the same day William was murdered and left in the woods.
McQuain's clothing from the footage matches what was found on Tuesday, Manger said.
"We believe he may have been here since Oct. 1," he said.
Police do not know if Jane McQuain or Lopez owned a unit at the storage facility where the footage was captured.
Lopez had served more than a dozen years in prison in Pennsylvania before being paroled in 2000.
Jane McQuain stayed married to him during that time, and Lopez had in recent years tried to be a factor in McQuain's life, even requesting that William call him "dad," said Ronald McCombs, McQuain's former boyfriend.
McQuain's ex-boyfriend, Ronald McCombs, told The Associated Press last week that she had told him several weeks ago that she feared for her safety and was concerned Lopez might harm her. He said the two had recently been arguing, largely about money.
McCombs said Tuesday that he had assumed William would not be found alive.
"He did not deserve it. Nobody deserves to get murdered _ nobody," McCombs said.
"It's a big hole in my life right now," he added.
He said he was hoping to come to court if Lopez ever goes to trial so that he can see the jury cry at photographs of the child.
A neighbor reported seeing a man load a television box from McQuain's condominium into her car on Oct. 5, and when shown a picture of Lopez, identified him as the man carrying a box, according to a search warrant. The man had been seen loitering around the condo in the three weeks before McQuain was found dead.
Police had been searching different trails and parks in northern Montgomery County for the boy, based on information they said they received.
"We had that little shred of hope that we would find William," Manger said. "That's what we were praying for."
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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP and the Associated Press.)
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