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FILE -- Louis Ross, right, holds a picture of Hasanni Campbell while his wife Jennifer Campbell stands in the background during a vigil for their foster child on Monday, Aug. 17, 2009, in Oakland, Calif. The 5-year-old boy, who has cerebral palsy, reportedly disappeared Aug. 10 in the Rockridge neighborhood. (Aric Crabb/Staff File)

At 5 years old, Hasanni Campbell was already dealing with heavy life challenges.

He suffered from cerebral palsy and used leg braces to help him walk. His biological mother had a substance abuse problem and he was put in foster care. Hasanni went to live with his mother's sister Jennifer Campbell and her fiancé Louis Ross in Fremont.

On Aug. 10, 2009, Ross reported to Oakland police that Hasanni had been abducted from Shuz shoe store parking lot on College Avenue in the Rockridge section of Oakland. It was late afternoon on a bustling commercial strip. Yet none of the business owners, customers or anyone else interviewed by police officers during an intense search of the area remembered seeing the child. Search and rescue dogs couldn't detect his scent. Did someone take Hasanni out of the car and carry him away? Whisk him into another vehicle so that his feet never touched the ground to leave a scent? Or did the foster father -- as the Oakland Police Department has alleged from the beginning -- kill the child at some other location? Then stage the parking lot "abduction" to cover his tracks? Which Ross has adamantly denied.


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Five years to the day since Hasanni Campbell was reported missing, the case remains one of the San Francisco Bay Area's big mysteries. The story has been featured on "Nancy Grace America's Missing" on CNN. TV One's "Find our Missing" aired a segment. There is a Facebook page called "Hasanni Campbell, Still Missing." It features photos of the child as well as stories about other missing children -- interspersed with posts that appear to be from family friends.

But despite efforts to keep Hasanni's story in the public eye, the case has gone stone cold.

Oakland police investigators have not received any recent information that could be of use. Spokeswoman Johnna Watson says the case is "open."

Yet when homicide investigators are swamped and struggling to keep up with current killings I doubt that anyone at OPD is actively looking for Hasanni. With no fresh leads, where would they search?

Usually when a child goes missing, the parents do everything possible to keep his name and face in the public eye. But you never saw Hasanni's foster parents making tearful pleas before television cameras begging whoever had taken their son to return him. The people who were doing all of the organizing of the searches for the child, holding vigils and fundraisers, were volunteers.

At the time, Marc Klaas found that strange. Klaas' daughter Polly had been abducted from her Petaluma home and killed by a parolee in 1993. He knew from experience what it was like to be in the shoes of the parent of an abducted child. He'd offered the services of his missing children's group KlaasKids Foundation to help search for Hasanni.

Klaas remains as convinced today as he was five years ago that Ross is responsible for Hasanni's disappearance. "His story was so preposterous and unsubstantiated that you couldn't accept it as true," Klaas said.

The story definitely strains the limits of credulity. According to what Ross told the police, he pulled his BMW into the back parking lot of Shuz where his fiancé worked. He took Hasanni's younger sister, who also lived with the couple inside the store, and left Hasanni in the car. When he returned a short while later, he said, Hasanni was gone.

Eleven days later, police arrested Ross and Campbell on suspicion of murder after searching their home in Fremont. Police officials proclaimed that Hasanni had never been in Oakland on the day in question.

Ross flunked a polygraph. Campbell refused to take one because she said she was pregnant and feared it might harm her unborn child.

Yet professing someone to be guilty and proving it are two different things. The Alameda County District Attorney determined there was not enough evidence to prosecute the couple. Campbell and Ross were freed. They soon separated and moved out of the area. Howard Jordan, who was police chief at the time, had pledged to reinvestigate the case and present it again to prosecutors, but that never happened. The District Attorney wouldn't comment on the case.

Five years later, Hasanni is still missing. He would be 11 years old next month.

A child does not just disappear from the planet without someone knowing something.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Hasanni Campbell can contact the Oakland Police Department and leave an anonymous tip at 510 238-3821 or text TIP OAKLANDPD then your message to 888777.



Tammerlin Drummond is a columnist for the Bay Area News Group. Her column runs Thursday and Sunday. Contact her at tdrummond@bayareanewsgroup.com or follow her at Twitter.com/tammerlin.