A Fla. Toddler Vanished and then His Mom Died by Suicide — But After 14 Years, Family Still Has Hope
On August 27, 2006, Melinda Duckett called 911 from her home in Leesburg, Florida, to report that her 2-year-old son, Trenton, had disappeared from his bedroom while she was watching a movie with some friends.
"He was ready for bed,” she breathlessly told the dispatcher. “He might have had his shoes off and his shirt off. He had a pair of jean shorts. He’s only 2 years old." Police arrived on the scene and discovered that the screen to Trenton's bedroom window had been cut. The boy had vanished without a trace.
Melinda Duckett was the prime suspect in the investigation. While police say they could have arrested her within four days of her son’s disappearance, they opted to wait, hoping that she would lead them to her son.
But Duckett, 21, never gave the cops any usable information. She appeared on the Nancy Grace TV show a few weeks later and gave conflicting information about Trenton's disappearance. During the broadcast, Grace accused Duckett of being evasive.
The day after the show, Duckett wrote a 2-page letter addressed to "the public." In the note, she expressed her love for Trenton, and complained about being treated with "ridicule and criticism." She left the letter on the dashboard of her car before shooting herself.
Fourteen years later, the case is still open. PEOPLE confirms that the Leesburg Police Department still receives tips in the baffling case. Authorities won't say whether they believe Trenton is alive or dead — and they have been unable to solve the case.
But Trenton has not been forgotten. He would now be 16 years old. Late last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released an age-progressed photo of what Trenton Duckett would look like as a teenager.
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His family has not given up hope that the boy is alive.
Trenton’s father, Josh Duckett, has made occasional public appearances and vigils, hoping for the boy's return. "We’ve never given up, and we’re not going to now," he told News 6 last year. "We’ve stayed strong since day one, and we know that there’s answers. We prepared ourselves for the worst and we hope for the best."
While authorities have not released any new developments in the case, police tell PEOPLE that the case has been assigned to a cold case team who is attempting to find new information on the mysterious case.
Anyone with information about Trenton’s whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or the Leesburg Police Department at 1-352-787-2121.
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