A missing 8-month-old Arizona baby is likely still alive, despite his young mother's claim that she killed him, according to police.
Gabriel Johnson's biological father, Logan McQueary, is begging for the return of his son, who was taken cross-country by his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, last month. He and police believe Johnson may have left the couple's son with people she met in San Antonio, Texas, in an effort to hide Gabriel from McQueary.
"Please, do the right thing and turn him over. Don't worry about getting in trouble or anything like that," McQueary said on "Good Morning America" today to whoever knows where Gabriel is. "Please. I want my son back."
Although police say they now have indications to the contrary, McQueary said he received text messages from his ex-girlfriend while she was on the run, claiming to have murdered their baby. She was arrested Dec. 29 in Miami Beach without Gabriel and charged with interfering with custody.
"The last indications that we have was that Gabriel was alive and well in the San Antonio area on Dec. 26," Tempe Police Sgt. Steve Carbajal told "Good Morning America" today. "We are receiving some indications that Gabriel is still alive and we're very optimistic about that."
In a jailhouse interview this week with a Phoenix CBS affiliate, Johnson, 23, of Tempe, Ariz., denied harming their son, saying she told McQueary she had killed Gabriel to get back at him.
"He had ruined my life and he hurt me and I wanted to hurt him," she said. "And that was the only thing I could say that would hurt him."
She claimed in the same interview to have left her son with a random couple she met in a San Antonio park, but that she didn't know anything about them other than that they seemed trustworthy.
Johnson's grandfather, Bob Johnson, told ABC News that he doesn't believe his granddaughter's story that she simply left her child with an unknown couple.
"I think that she has given the baby to somebody and I think she knows who it is," he said. "I think it's in San Antonio in somebody else's house and she just ain't given it up.
"She has an anger-management problem and she's working on that," Bob Johnson said.
The bizarre custody dispute began before Christmas when Johnson fled after McQueary refused to sign paperwork relinquishing his rights to Gabriel.
Johnson, who had been in talks with an Arizona couple to adopt Gabriel, lost custody of Gabriel after failing to appear at a Dec. 28 court hearing.
Carbajal told "Good Morning America" that the couple claiming to be Gabriel's adoptive parents -- Tammi and Jack Smith -- have no legal right to the child.
"We want to be clear that the court has made a determination here in Arizona that Logan is the father," he said. "Logan has stated numerous times that his desire is to raise his son Gabriel."
Tammi and Jack Smith are sticking by Johnson, talking to her in jail and saying she hid Gabriel to protect him.
"What she is telling us is that she met a family, a Caucasian man and woman with no child -- young," Tammi Smith told "Good Morning America."
"And she met them in the park. And she was crying and distraught and they came up to her and said, 'How can we help you?'"