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Help sought in identifying boy

Youngster was abandoned in a Utah ShopKo

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Salt Lake City police are asking for the public's help in identifying a young boy abandoned Saturday afternoon in a Sugar House ShopKo.

The boy was left in a shopping cart with a toy inside the store at 2290 S. 1300 East.

Surveillance video from the store shows a stocky man with a ball cap, a dark jacket and a bright orange shirt walking into the store with the boy. The man grabs a shopping cart. Moments later, the tape shows the man walking out alone.

"We just don't know a lot about him," Utah Department of Human Services spokeswoman Carol Sisco said of the young boy. "He seemed like he was well-cared-for, well-kept. He did not look abused."

The biggest stumbling block for detectives is that the boy doesn't know his last name and no one has reported him missing.

"He's a sharp little kid. He just doesn't have the information," Salt Lake City police detective Dwayne Baird said.

Investigators believe the boy was left alone in the store for 45 minutes to an hour before a customer alerted store security.

Baird said the boy is 3 or 4 years old. The child told Utah Department of Child and Family Services workers his name was Jacob, but detectives said that may be his middle name and Dante may be his first name. The boy may have lived previously with his grandfather named Pedro.

The boy told investigators his mother's name is either Janet or Jeanette and he may also have four sisters. Sisco said the boy talks a lot about his mother. And although he has remained calm throughout the ordeal, he keeps telling DCFS workers that he needs to return home.

"He talks about his mom a lot and says she's going to be worried that he isn't there," Sisco said.

Jacob was found with a gold chain around his neck with a tiny cross and a basketball hoop. He won't let anyone take it off because he says it was a gift from his mom, Sisco said.

Although the boy appears to be of Hispanic descent, he knows only English, Sisco said. DCFS workers have tried everything they can think of but have not been able to track down the boy's last name, his parents or where he lives.

In retracing the boy's steps, the most investigators have been able to determine is that he went to McDonald's Saturday before going to ShopKo, Baird said.

Jacob was being kept in a foster home Tuesday. Once his parents are found, Sisco said DCFS workers and police will need to talk to them to find out what might have happened.

Anyone with information about the boy is asked to call Salt Lake City police at 799-3000.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com