A 6-year-old boy who vanished a week ago while playing near his trailer-park home was found slain Thursday after a registered sex offender and three other suspects stymied investigators for days with conflicting stories of the youngster's fate.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said all four suspects would probably be charged with murder in the slaying of Christopher Michael Barrios.
Christopher's partially concealed body was discovered by a state ranger about three miles from the youngster's home. Doering said it was obvious the boy had been killed, but he would not say how and would not disclose how long the body had been there.
About 60 volunteer searchers, many wearing T-shirts printed with the boy's photo, hugged and wept as Doering confirmed Christopher's death to reporters.
"You suspected all along in your heart, it's just not the outcome you want," said Mari Charnock. "At least we know, though. At least it's over."
Earlier this week, police arrested four people - a convicted child molester living in the trailer park, his parents and a friend of theirs - in connection with the boy's disappearance.
Investigators said the four told a tangle of conflicting and ever-shifting stories - that they knew nothing about the boy's disappearance, that the boy was still alive, and that he had been abducted, killed and buried. But repeated searches of the spots where the boy was supposedly buried turned up nothing, investigators said.
Doering said none of the tips from the suspects led to the discovery of the body. The body was found near the county airport, miles away from the patch of dense woods close to the trailer park where investigators were led to believe the boy had been buried.
Christopher lived with his father in a neighborhood of about 50 mobile homes along a narrow, U-shaped road just outside of Brunswick. Neighbors told police that they last saw the boy on the evening of March 8, playing by himself on the swing set outside a friend's home. One of his toys, a Star Wars lightsaber, was found beside the road.
George David Edenfield, a mentally slow 32-year-old man who lived with his parents across the street from the boy's grandmother, was arrested and charged with violating his probation from a 1997 child molestation conviction, which prohibits him from contact with children. Police said he admitted playing a role in Christopher's disappearance, but they would not be more specific.
Edenfield's parents were jailed on charges of obstruction and lying to police because they first denied knowing anything about the boy's disappearance, then later said they knew he had been abducted, authorities said.
The same charges were brought against a fourth suspect, Donald Dale. Police said he told them he helped bury the boy.
Doering said he escorted the boy's father, Mike Barrios, to the scene to see the body at the father's request.
"That was the hardest part," Doering said. "When it's your only son that has been killed and you want to go look for the last time, that's tough."
The police chief said the body was covered with some sort of material, but he would not be more specific.
(This version CORRECTS the first paragraph to say that three other suspects, not neighbors, stymied investigators. Not all suspects are neigbors.)
RUSS BYNUM, Associated Press Writer