The father and grandmother of an 8-month-old boy reported missing last week were arrested Thursday in connection with the case, according to Police Chief William McManus, who disclosed for the first time that police believe the infant is dead.
Christopher Davila, 34, and his mother, Beatrice Sampayo Davila, 65, both face a charge of tampering with evidence in the disappearance of King Jay Davila. A cousin, 45-year -old Angie Torres, who is already in custody on unrelated charges, is accused of the same crime.
“We believe that they participated in staging the kidnapping to hide King Jay’s body so that we could not find it to determine what happened to him,” McManus said. “We have statements from multiple witnesses that unfortunately lead us to believe King Jay is deceased.”
On Jan. 4, Davila initially told police that his son, King Jay, was in the back seat of a Dodge Dart which was running, while he visited a convenience store. While he was inside the store, a woman was seen on surveillance video entering the car, which was unlocked, and drove off with King Jay strapped into his car seat.
Thirty minutes later, police found the car without King Jay or the car seat inside. Hours later, police charged Christopher Davila with child endangerment. He was released on bail for that charge Sunday.
In a news conference Monday, McManus announced the arrest of Torres, whom he identified as the woman seen driving off in the car, and that police believed the abduction was staged to cover up foul play.
King Jay was never inside the car, the chief said.
McManus said at a news conference Thursday evening that Torres identified King Jay’s paternal grandmother, Beatrice Sampayo, as the woman who dropped her off near the convenience store in the 300 block of Enrique Barrera Parkway.
Torres described to police the route they took to dispose of a car seat that the woman can be seen carrying away in security camera footage.
“Angie also said that she learned from Beatrice that Christopher had severely injured King Jay,” McManus said. “We are still actively looking for King Jay, because we seek justice for him.”
In an exclusive interview with the Express-News on Monday, several of Christopher Davila’s family members, including his mother, insisted he was innocent. Since King Jay’s disappearance, the family has been critical of the police’s focus on Christopher in their investigation.
When asked how she knew her son was innocent, the response of Beatrice Davila, who has battled cancer for years, was barely audible.
“He’s my son,” Beatrice Davila said. “To kill someone? I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Police have several locations that they will be searching for King Jay, but McManus said he could not disclose them during Thursday’s press conference. He urged the public and media to stay out of the way as they examine the locations.
McManus noted that detectives and FBI agents have been working in shifts, handing the case off to one another to keep things moving.
“The detectives have done a great job sorting out fact from fiction and working out the maze of lies that they’ve been told,” McManus said of their investigation.
“We will not be satisfied until we find King Jay,” he said.
McManus said new charges could arise for the trio in custody, and that others could be arrested in the case as their investigation continues.
King Jay’s mother, Jasmine Gonzales, is still under investigation, McManus said.
“I will again tell anyone who has information that your time is running out to come forward and talk to us,” McManus said. “If you’ve already lied to us, then we are going to charge you, too.”