The mother and aunt of a missing 6-year-old boy with autism from Southern California have been charged with his murder, authorities said on Saturday.
Jakee Raquel Flores, 29, and her twin sister Jennifer Rachel Contreras, were charged in connection with the disappearance of Flores' son, Duke -- who remains missing, according to a press release issued on Saturday morning by the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department..
On Thursday, police responded to a home in Apple Valley -- about 45 minutes north of San Bernardino -- to conduct a welfare check on the boy in response to a request from an unidentified family member, according to the press release. When they arrived, Flores told law enforcement officials that the boy had been missing for about two weeks. She was subsequently arrested and charged with child neglect for failing to report the child missing, and a search for the missing boy was launched.
It remained unclear on Saturday why officials decided to charge the twins with murder without apparently having located the child.
"The investigation is ongoing and detectives are continuing the search for Duke Flores," the news release said.
Police searched the Apple Valley home where Duke lives along with his mother and aunt on Friday. Two vehicles were also towed away from the home, KABC reported.
The child's grandmother, Lydia Gutierrez, said she was suspicious of her daughter after not seeing the child for awhile. When she asked Jackee about Duke, she said that her daughter told her that Duke had tried to smother a baby with a pillow and was being held at a mental facility.
On Friday, family members to Los Angeles ABC station KABC about the length of time the boy appears to have been missing.
"I just want to find Duke. That's all I really want," the boy's aunt, Lea Contreras, told KABC. "My sisters, they are where they are, but right now, what we really want is to find Duke."
Two other children live inside the house, family said.
Apple Valley police say Duke is tall for his age, about 3-foot-10, and has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information can call the police department at 760-240-7400, extension 7412.