Missing boy’s father draws scrutiny

Calling him a “person of interest,” but not a suspect, police want Stephen Kerr, the adoptive father
Missing Greenwich resident Jaliek Rainwalker.
Missing Greenwich resident Jaliek Rainwalker.

Calling him a “person of interest,” but not a suspect, police want Stephen Kerr, the adoptive father of a missing 12-year-old boy, to let them compare a van he was using in November with a van seen in a new surveillance videotape.

State police and local police said Monday the surveillance video shows a gold Town & County van like the one Kerr was using when Jaliek Rainwalker was last seen on Nov. 1.

The videotape of the van is important, police said, because it would call into question statements Kerr made to police about where he was before and after Jaliek went missing.

“It would indicate he is being less than truthful,” said Lt. Scott Coburn of the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

But Kerr, on advice of his attorney, won’t allow police access to the van so they can make the necessary comparisons.

“The van [in the video] is similar to the van Stephen was using,” said Greenwich-Cambridge Police Chief George Bell. The van belongs to Kerr’s father, Graham Kerr of Greenwich.

Bell said Kerr has been less than cooperative during the police investigation into the disappearance of the boy.

Yet police stopped short of calling Kerr a suspect in Jaliek’s disappearance.

“We have no evidence,” Bell said about any role Kerr might have played in the disappearance of the boy.

Kerr told police he brought Rainwalker to the village of Greenwich on Nov. 1 from a respite home in Altamont. The boy, who suffers from a behavioral disorder, had threatened another child and was sent to the respite home.

The next morning, Kerr said, the boy was missing from the house at 11 Hill St. where the two stayed overnight, according to Kerr. He said the boy left a goodbye note, saying he was sorry for causing the family any trouble.

Searches for the 12-year-old boy by air, water and land over the past two months in the Greenwich area of Washington County and in the state of Vermont have been fruitless.

Coburn, who joined Bell at Monday’s new conference in Greenwich, said state police brought Kerr to Loudonville on Nov. 6 so that he could be given a polygraph test.

Kerr was willing to do this until just before the lie detector test was to be administered. As they were about to perform the polygraph test, Kerr said he didn’t feel well and refused to continue, according to the state police.

“Obviously an honest person would have taken the polygraph,” Coburn said.

Police then took Kerr back to Greenwich but stopped along the way at a Burger King restaurant. Coburn disputed Kerr’s assertions that he had been “mistreated” by state police, saying that state police stopped at a Dunkin Donuts shop on the way to Loudonville and the Burger King on the way back, allowing Kerr to eat at both locations.

Kerr said he welcomed the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s involvement in the case because of the alleged mistreatment. But Kerr refused to fill out a behavioral analysis form about Rainwalker that the FBI asked him to complete and refused the FBI’s request for a polygraph test, police said Monday.

Jocelyn McDonald, Rainwalker’s adoptive mother, took a polygraph test and filled out the FBI behavioral form.

Police on Monday would not say where the surveillance videotape was taken or describe what it showed, other than a gold Town & Country van like the one Kerr was driving on Nov. 1.

Kerr, who did not return phone calls on Monday, has said he believes his stepson ran away to the Albany-Troy area and joined a youth gang in one of those cities.

Bell and Coburn issued two requests on Monday:

u That anyone who talked to Kerr in December while he was distributing reward posters for Jaliek in the Madison Avenue area of Albany call Greenwich-Cambridge police at 692-9332. They are interested in anyone who told Kerr that they might have seen Jaliek Rainwalker in Albany back then, as Kerr said he was told by some people.

u That anyone who may have seen Kerr on Thursday, Nov. 1, or Friday, Nov. 2, contact the Greenwich-Cambridge police headquarters.

Bell said police have followed up on 325 leads in the case. Coburn said the police got another lead from a woman in Troy on Monday. She said she may have seen Rainwalker in Troy some time ago. This lead will be pursued, Coburn said.

“Our goal here is to find Jaliek,” Chief Bell said.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply