BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The release of surveillance video showing two persons of interest accompanying a boy found alone hours later was an extremely noteworthy part, and police hope a turning point, of an investigation that has been closely followed for the entire week, here in Buffalo to Florida and beyond.
Police said Thursday that the little boy who began the week alone, sleeping in a box, on a stranger’s porch was the same child on surveillance video being led away from the scene of a vehicle fire by two men seen holding gas cans.
The video is being pored over, along with the remnants of a charred van that held the remains of two people, police said. They said the three-year-old boy was accompanied 1,000-plus miles north by three adults, including his mother and father. All three officially remain missing.
Monday, Sept. 16
A woman on Potomac Avenue stepped out onto her porch to find a small boy sleeping in a box she leaves out for cats. He was wearing only a pull-up diaper.
“He was crawling out of the box,” said Lois Augsburger. “He heard me. he must’ve heard me open the door and he came crawling out of the box and he had the blanket around him and I picked him up and I hugged him.”
A daycare provider in the area who came over to help says the boy repeatedly referenced a burning car.
A burned-out vehicle was found behind a mini-storage facility on Tonawanda Street. Buffalo Police said at that time there may have been human remains inside.
Police said the fire probably began around 3 a.m. on Monday morning.
The mini-storage unit is about a half-mile away from Potomac Avenue.
Tuesday, Sept. 17
We learned that the boy’s name is Noelvin from his paternal grandmother, who flew in from the Orlando, Florida area.
She said she believed the boy was visiting the Buffalo area with his parents and a friend.
That afternoon, police released photos of the boy’s mother, Nicole Merced Plaud, the boy’s father, Miguel Anthony Valentin-Colon, and Dhamyl Mirella Roman-Audiffred, a family friend. They asked anyone who may have noticed them in the past week to come forward.
The burned-out vehicle was towed from the scene in Black Rock late Tuesday. Investigators continued sifting through the evidence, and an expert said it’s a painstaking process.
Police were careful to not directly connect the incidents as their investigation continued.
Wednesday, Sept. 18
After reuniting with Noelven, his grandmother said he was healthy and doing well, all things considered.
“He said goodbye, he gave hugs and kisses and we all transitioned very well,” said Zenaida Colon, who said she was moving through the process to take custody and go home with Noelven to Florida.
It was the first time the boy had seen anyone he recognized in 2 1/2 days.
News 4 also learned that Dhamyl Roman, the close family friend who was believed to be traveling with the parents of Noelvin, used to live in Webster, near Rochester, before moving to Orlando a few years ago.
Thursday, Sept. 19
Police in Buffalo released a video of two men holding the hands of a child, leading him away from where the vehicle was parked. Police said it was captured right around 3 a.m. Monday.
Police said a flash can be seen, believed to be that of the fire. The two men were carrying gas cans. One is on video pausing to put a piece of dark clothing over his head.
Police confirmed that two bodies were found in the charred vehicle, and the vehicle is the one that the parents of Noelvin drove to Buffalo from Florida.
Police emphasized that the three adults are still considered missing.
“Beyond disturbing,” said Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo. “Clearly that little boy was inside of that vehicle. There’s two human beings that burned in that vehicle. This is a horrific, horrific crime.
“I guess we should be thankful that that little boy is alive and safe, could’ve had other tragic outcomes, but as you can see he’s front and center for this so we want to catch the people responsible for this.”
Friday, Sept. 20
A closer look of the surveillance video appears to show a white Chrysler Pacifica driving through a metal gate next to the warehouse at 2:51 a.m. Monday.
Three minutes later, a man is seen walking back toward the van, and seven minutes after that, he runs out with another man who is holding the hand of Noelvin. The three-year-old boy appeared to be wearing clothes. Hours later, you’ll remember he was found wearing only a diaper.
Police say it may be weeks before they figure out which two bodies burned in that van, but Noelven’s parents and a close family friend all remain missing.