A new task force has been created to help find a 12-year-old boy last seen two months ago.
“We have been brought together by our love of Jaliek [Rainwalker] and our desire to have him found,” Elaine Person said Tuesday.
Person and four other families who had cared for Rainwalker at one point in his life or another launched the Find Jaliek Task Force on Tuesday. The group’s Web site is: www.findjaliek.org.
The task force is pledging to keep the reward for any information leading to Rainwalker’s whereabouts at $25,000.
The task force also wants to spread the word about “the joys of foster parenting and adopting older children.”
Rainwalker’s adoptive parents, Jocelyn McDonald and Stephen Kerr, had offered the reward late last year. However, the reward dropped to $20,000 on Jan. 1 and will drop $5,000 in value each month that Rainwalker is not found.
The task force members pledged Tuesday during a news conference at the Washington Square Deli to raise the money needed to keep the reward at $25,000.
Local and state police, state forest rangers and even the FBI have searched fruitlessly in Greenwich and surrounding areas of Washington County for more than a month for any sign of the missing boy.
Person and her husband, Tom Person, both of Altamont, took care of Rainwalker for six days as “respite” parents before he was returned to his adoptive father, Stephen Kerr of Cossayuna.
Rainwalker, who was known to have behavior problems, had earlier verbally threatened a child he was being home schooled with, according to authorities.
Kerr said he brought the boy from Altamont to a home Kerr’s father owns in the village of Greenwich on Nov. 1. The boy was missing from his bed the next morning and has not been seen since.
Kerr said the boy left a note apologizing for causing the family any trouble and saying that he wouldn’t “be a problem anymore.”
Police have questioned the adoptive father at length and the FBI even took Kerr back through the Nov. 1 journey from Altamont to the home in Greenwich.
“I’m glad people are working toward finding my son,” Kerr said Tuesday during a telephone conversation. “I think it’s wonderful.”
He said he and his wife continue to pursue other avenues, including discussions with experts on youth gangs.
Kerr said he is convinced that Jaliek is alive and living in inner-city Albany, Troy or Schenectady. He said he thinks Jaliek may be living with or associated with a gang.
“There are more than 20 gangs in the Albany and Troy area,” Kerr said about information he has learned by talking to people familiar with youth gangs in the Capital Region.
Jaliek tried to mimic the “gang culture,” including the music, according to Kerr.
Person said she does not believe this theory. She said Jaliek did not exhibit any gang tendencies. She said the troubled boy read a lot and accompanied her retired husband, Tom, on the many errands he did each day.
“He was planning on coming back the following Tuesday,” Nov. 6, Person said about Rainwalker. “He had a great time with us.”
Person said there is not enough professional oversight given to children who are adopted. She said the task force will raise such issues in the coming months.
Person said Rainwalker, during his brief life, has lived with seven foster parents or adoptive parents.
The five families that created the task force are putting up the first $5,000 to keep the reward at $25,000. However, the group will be raising money and seeking donations to raise the second $5,000 in another month, if need be. Those interested in contributing can visit any Trustco Bank branch or write to: Trustco Bank, c/o the Find Jaliek Reward Fund, 131 Main St., Greenwich NY 12843.
In addition, a toll-free number has been set up for the task force: 1-877-452-5435.
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Categories: Schenectady County