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HomeLocal & StateSearch continues for missing toddler "JJ"

Search continues for missing toddler “JJ”

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Sheriff Al Nienhuis spoke to the press today around 5 pm, providing an update on the missing toddler, Joshua “JJ” Rowland.  He said JJ’s parents reported him missing from his home in north Brooksville (Yontz and Cheever Rd) around noon.  This area is rural, and the homes have large lots with wooded areas, which has made the search difficult. 

According to the mother, he had been missing for about an hour at the time she called the authorities at noon.  The parents told detectives that a relative dropped off a sleeping JJ at the house around 9:45 am, next to his caregiver, that was also asleep.

The Sheriff’s Office has canvased the neighborhood several times, talking to neighbors and searching homes in the area.

Sheriff Nienhuis said that a neighbor who he described as a fairly reliable witness, saw JJ playing in the front yard with the dogs at about 10:40 am.  They believe he disappeared between 10:40 and 11:00 am based on the times the mother provided.

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His parents told authorities that JJ is very energetic and acts older than he is.

Between 50 and 60 law enforcement personnel, patrol K-9s, and Hernando County Fire Rescue have been involved in the search as well as the Department of Corrections with their bloodhounds and Pasco Sheriff’s Office with their bloodhounds. The Citrus County dive team is looking in bodies of water close to the home. The Sheriff’s Office helicopter has also been deployed in the search.

They’ve checked any sexual offenders and predators in the area, and all were cooperative, allowing their homes to be searched.

“But as of right now, we have no indication that he was abducted or he wandered off- we just don’t know what happened,” said Sheriff Nienhuis.

“We’re not going to go home until we find JJ. The family is being very cooperative with us, and they know we’re out here working extremely hard to figure out exactly what happened.”

Sheriff Nienhuis said that it’s been challenging to see from the helicopter into wooded areas.

“We’re thinking once the sun goes down, the forward-looking infrared cameras might be able to give us some indication of where he might be.”

He’s also been advised that the bloodhounds may be able to be more productive once the sun starts to go down.

Sheriff Nienhuis asked that anyone who lives within a mile or two check their property three or four times, including unlocked sheds or vehicles, where he could be hiding.

Also, he said if anyone you know is acting weird, give HCSO a call so they can speak with that person.  They are following up on all leads.

He also advised parents not to delay in calling 9-1-1 when a child is missing so they can start the search immediately.

Sheriff Nienhuis state that if JJ is not found tonight, additional dive teams will help search the pond in question tomorrow, along with some other bodies of water in the area that are a little further away.

The ground search concluded around 8:30 pm this evening. According to a media notification, the HCSO aviation unit will be checking the area for the next few hours.

Julie B. Maglio
Julie B. Maglio
Julie B. Maglio has experience in art, graphic arts, web design and development. She also has a strong scientific background, co-authoring a scientific paper on modeling the migration and population dynamics of the monarch butterfly, while attending the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute at Cornell University. She holds a B.A. from New College of Florida, majoring in Biology.
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