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Inside the tunnel and basement where 12-year-old missing boy was found
These are the first pictures of the tunnel where 12-year-old Charlie Bothuell apparently hid for 11 days while police and FBI agents desperately searched for him, fearing he had been murdered.
Charlie was discovered hiding behind boxes and a large plastic drum in a tiny basement while his father Charles IV was being interviewed live on national television, appealing for his son’s safe return.
Since his discovery, Charlie’s stepmom has been arrested on gun charges, her two younger children have been taken into care and Charles IV has not been able to see his son as police have taken him to live with his mother.
There have been suggestions that abuse charges may be brought by prosecutors and allegations that his father and stepmom may have somehow been involved in his disappearance. His father has angrily denied the claims, calling them, ‘absurd’.
But neighbors in the upmarket condo building close to downtown Detroit have said they believe Charlie simply ran away and used the tunnel to come and go as he pleased.
One neighbor even said the home-schooled pre-teen had been spotted out playing basketball in the neighborhood while law enforcement and family carried out their desperate search.
MailOnline was granted exclusive access to the long corridor that joins all the condos and leads to the outside world.
The outside door is usually locked and only accessible to maintenance men, but crucially last week, it was apparently open so residents could get rid of a build-up of trash in a dumpster left outside.
That means Charlie could have left the property in the day, before returning at night. That would explain why FBI agents with search dogs could not find the boy during their exhaustive searches.
There is also a communal storage space – seen in our pictures – where neighbors believe he could have easily hidden. There is even an accessible bathroom in the tunnel.
Speaking to the MailOnline, the neighbor, who did not want to be named, said: ‘As far as I am concerned this kid ran away, then he was found and that’s it.
‘He ran away two years ago, that has been in the news, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the most obvious explanation here is that he ran away again.
‘I have heard he was seen by some of the local kids playing basketball on at least one occasion. The door at the end of the tunnel was open all last week because people were putting their garbage in a dumpster. That means he could have come and gone as he pleased.
‘In my opinion he was going out in the day, messing around, eating and then coming back to stay in the corridor or in his basement at night. There is even a bathroom down there for him to use.