Mona Nelson Arrested for Murder of 12-Year-Old Jonathan Foster

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"The cops kept thinking [Jonathan] ran away," she said. "But he had waited too many years to go back with his mama, that's what he wished for on his birthdays, to be back with his mama... That doesn't sound like a kid who wants to run."

Smith defended the timing of the Amber Alert, saying that conflicting accounts of what happened the day Jonathan went missing made the case even harder for investigators.

While he wouldn't specify what the conflicting stories were about in great detail, Smith said that the mother and the boy's stepfather David Davis had originally said that Jonathan was home with a babysitter when he disappeared, but later said he had been at home alone.

Woman Arrested in Death of Burned Boy

Only when they could pin down an accurate description of the boy, as well as identify the person who might have been with him at the time of his disappearance -- a woman with a raspy voice -- the officers issued an Amber Alert.

"If we issued an Amber Alert on every case, we'd be inundating the public with alerts for children who really did just run away," said Smith.

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