Buffalo police are searching for answers after a little boy was found sleeping on a stranger’s porch just hours before a burned car with human remains was discovered a mere mile away.
Since the two mysterious events unfolded on Monday, western New York authorities have kicked off an investigation and are attempting to locate the three-year-old boy’s parents, whom they have identified as Nicole Merced Plaud and Miguel Anthony Valentin-Colo, while they examine the badly-burned vehicle and charred remains, WKBW reports.
Though the discoveries were made within 10 hours and approximately one mile of each other, and the woman who found the little boy recalled how he kept repeating “the car’s on fire,” police have not officially said the two incidents are connected as of yet.
On Monday morning, a spokesperson with the Buffalo Police Department announced on Facebook that they were searching for the parents of the little boy who was discovered sleeping on a Potomac Avenue porch around 8 a.m.
Speaking to WKBW shortly after the incident, Lois Augsburger, the woman who found the toddler inside a cardboard box that she initially put out for stray cats, described the discovery as “so traumatizing.”
“I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I picked him up and I hugged him,” she recalled to WKBW, adding how when she asked him where his parents were, the three-year-old kept repeating how “the car was on fire.”
Augsburger immediately contacted the police, who arrived at her Buffalo residence and observed that the boy appeared to be in good health, according to The Buffalo News.
A search for the boy’s parents through the neighborhood was then conducted, but no one was found — something that Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said officials found to be odd.
“The child is not extremely verbal, which made it difficult for us to attempt to figure out the circumstances of this child’s appearance on the porch this morning,” Rinaldo explained during a press conference on Monday, according to the local news outlet.
“It’s extremely odd that after this amount of time has passed that we wouldn’t have received a missing child call by now. We see a fair amount of children that wander away, especially if grandma or grandpa happen to be watching them,” he continued. “You know, a child will wander out a side door, and it usually takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes before the calls start for a missing child, and we have not seen that in this case.”
The boy’s grandmother, Zenaida Colin, from Florida eventually saw the Buffalo Police’s Facebook post and contacted them, identifying the child as her grandson, Noelvin, WKBW reports.
Colin also told the outlet that she hadn’t heard from Noelvin’s parents since Sunday and attempted to take custody of the toddler, but was temporarily denied.
Meanwhile, ten hours after Noelvin was found sleeping on the porch, Buffalo police made another discovery — this time, of a burned car with human remains inside in a secluded area behind a three-story brick building.
Investigators believe that the fire started around 3 a.m. on Monday and was so severe and hot that it eventually extinguished itself, making the vehicle identification process incredibly difficult, according to WKBW.
On Tuesday, the Buffalo Police Department issued a missing persons report on Facebook for Noelvin’s parents — Plaud, 24, and Valentin-Colon, 31, both of Orlando — as well as their family friend, Dhamyl Mirella Roman-Audiffred, 29, also of Orlando.
Zenaida Colon, Valentin-Colon’s mother, spoke to The Buffalo News and said her son may have been taking his family and friend on a road trip.
Colon’s daughter also said she spoke with Valentin-Colon but grew worried when she didn’t hear from him on Monday, prompting her to go on social media and learn of Noelvin being found in Buffalo.
As police work to determine whether these two incidents are related, Plaud and Valentin-Colon’s families have flown into Buffalo from Florida and are anxiously waiting to see if the burned human remains are those of their loved ones.
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They are also working with authorities to reunite with Noelvin, who currently remains in the custody of Erie County Child Protective Services, according to The Buffalo News.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Rinaldo confirmed how police “are exploring the possibility of [a connection]” and described the situation as “a complicated investigation” that is “going to take quite some time to put this all together.”
Anyone with information on the case, including details on the car fire and/or possible whereabouts of the missing people, is asked to call Buffalo Homicide Detectives at (716) 851-4466 or the Confidential TIP CALL Line at (716) 847-2255.