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Giovanni's mother, Daisy Colon, dropped him off in the area of Brightwood Terrace in Lynn, Massachusetts at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, August 15, 2008. He was carrying a Transformers backpack containing some of his clothes and toys He was supposed to have a weekend visitation with his father, Ernesto L. Gonzalez Jr. Colon was unable to reach Ernesto or Giovanni by phone all weekend. When she came to pick Giovanni up on Sunday, no one answered the door at Ernesto's apartment. Colon called the police, who came over and got inside. Ernesto was there, but Giovanni wasn't with him. Giovanni's toys were inside the home, but not his backpack or any clothing. The child has never been heard from again.
When questioned, Ernesto said he wasn't aware of any scheduled visit with Giovanni and hadn't seen the boy since August 10. However, witnesses at the Lynn Behavioral Clinic on Union Street say Giovanni accompanied Ernesto to a scheduled appointment between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on August 16, the day after Colon last saw him. That's the last confirmed sighting of Giovanni, but Ernesto's neighbors say they heard a child's voice coming from his apartment later that day.
Photographs of both of Giovanni's parents are posted below this case summary. They separated when Giovanni was two years old and Colon says Ernesto had little contact with his son until the summer of 2008, when he asked to become part of Giovanni's life. Colon and Ernesto went into counseling so they could maintain consistent parenting techniques. They developed a verbal agreement for scheduled visits until September 15, at which time they would go to court and work out legal custody and visitation rights. Ernesto also filed for joint custody of Giovanni in June 2008.
On August 18, authorities arrested Ernesto and charged him with child endangerment in his son's disappearance. He reportedly refused to cooperate with the investigation, and he had a cut on his left finger and wouldn't say how he got it. Several days after Ernesto's arrest, police searched his apartment and seized several items, including knives, a bloodstained bottle of household cleanser and a bloodstained mop that had been cleaned with bleach. Testing later proved the blood wasn't Giovanni's. Ernesto has a history of substance abuse and violent behavior. He has been arrested three times, the last time in 2001, when he punched his girlfriend, chased her with a knife and damaged her car. He was convicted of multiple assault charges and served three months in jail. Colon said that while Ernesto had violent outbursts and once threw a chair at her, she never saw him abuse Giovanni.
In November 2008, in an interview with the Boston Globe, Ernesto confessed to Giovanni's murder. He said he'd stabbed his son to death, dismembered the body in the bathtub and discarded the six parts in trash bins around Lynn. Ernesto said the murder wasn't planned, he didn't know why he'd done it and he regretted it. Authorities have expressed skepticism of Ernesto's statement, however; there's no evidence in his apartment to corroborate his story. In December the child endangerment charge against Ernesto was dropped and he was instead charged with parental kidnapping and misleading police. The parental kidnapping charge was dismissed in June 2011, but restored a year later. In November 2011, he was additionally charged with assaulting a cellmate in jail.
Ernesto was declared incompetent to stand trial in October 2013; he apparently suffers from mental illness, but has refused to take medication or cooperate with his doctors. He's staying in the forensic section of Bridgewater State Hospital and can't face trial for the charges against him until he is pronounced competent again.
Colon doesn't believe Giovanni is dead; she believes Ernesto hid him and he's still alive. She speculated that Ernesto had taken Giovanni to Puerto Rico. Both Ernesto and Colon were born in Puerto Rico and have family there. Investigators looked into that theory and contacted Ernesto's Puerto Rican relatives, but they found no evidence that Giovanni was on the island. Colon stated after one visit with his father, Giovanni came back "pretending to be someone else." She believes Ernesto was coaching him to use a false name. She said when Giovanni was packing for his final visit with Ernesto, he wanted to pack considerably more clothes than he needed.
Giovanni was enrolled at the Samuel Adams School in East Boston, Massachusetts at the time of his disappearance; he was due to start kindergarten in September 2008. He previously attended St. Mary's School, a Catholic school that closed in June 2008. Both Giovanni's mother and the police believe he's probably alive. His disappearance remains unsolved.
Left: Ernesto Gonzalez;
Center: Daisy Colon;
Right: Giovanni's Spiderman sandals