It was a case that shook the city of Lynn to its core.
Police and community members desperately combed through acres of thick woods, a local cemetery, and the abandoned grounds of a former state hospital in the weeks after 6-year-old Jesus De La Cruz disappeared from downtown .
But the boy was never found, and Tuesday marked 25 years since he was first reported missing.
In hopes of renewing public attention to the case and perhaps finding a new lead, Lynn police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston division appealed to the public for tips on Twitter .
“We’re taking this unfortunate anniversary date to see if we can reinvigorate the case, possibly develop some new leads, and get some new interest,” said Lynn police Captain Mark O’Toole, who has overseen the case since 2008.
Jesus was last seen walking on Park Street towards the Lynn Common at around 6 p.m. on Sept. 28, 1996. He had been pushing a pink-and-green bicycle with two flat tires and a missing seat when a man, accompanied by a dog with mismatched eyes, approached him offering a new bike, witnesses told Lynn police.
The height of the case played out over a span of the next few weeks, as the boy’s parents pleaded for the return of their son and media and police devoured new leads.
“Whoever has my son, please, please, please bring him back to us,” Juan De La Cruz told reporters days after the search for his son began in late September 1996. “I know he’s alive.”
As the years passed, Jesus’ disappearance fell out of the spotlight and tips dried up, O’Toole said. A potential sighting is reported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children once every few years, O’Toole said, but investigations have turned up nothing.
Still, there is still hope, he said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children describes Jesus as having a scar above his left eye, birthmarks on his left calf and the side of his forehead, and his left ear pierced. Lynn police have developed a new rendering of what he could look like today. He would be 31.
“It would be great if he was alive,” said O’Toole, who is in touch with the boy’s father twice a year. “We’ve seen cases from across the country where that exact scenario has happened. I’m not presuming he’s not alive.”
ViCap Alert: #OTD, 25 years ago, Jesus de la Cruz was last seen walking on Park Street near his home in Lynn, MA. He was six-years-old and has not been seen since. Please visit https://t.co/5lRTg1wMQG for more details and contact @LynnPoliceDept if you have any information. pic.twitter.com/xwj3LDLQLC— FBI Boston (@FBIBoston) September 28, 2021