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Cops search Howard Beach for missing Brooklyn boy

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A frantic search for a Brooklyn foster child missing for nearly three months led police to a grassy area of Howard Beach last week, but all that turned up was dog remains, police said.

Patrick Alford, 7, has been missing since Jan. 22 after threatening to run away from his foster family’s Starrett City, Brooklyn, home. Police dogs tracked his scent to a bus stop two blocks away from his Brooklyn home after he was reported missing.

Patrick’s distraught biological mother, Jennifer Rodriguez, stood on the sidewalk by 165th Avenue near Spring Creek as officers on horseback searched through tall grass for her son last week.

“I’m just devastated. I need my son. I believe he’s alive out there. They need to bring him home. I can’t live without my son. How am I supposed to live?” said Rodriguez, 23, who lives on Staten Island.

About 100 officers from Brooklyn scoured the area near Cross Bay Boulevard, but only found the remains of a dog, a police spokeswoman said.

Rodriguez said she last saw her son Jan. 8 during a visit and said she did not believe he was the type to flee home.

“That’s not like him to run away,” she said.

Patrick was taken from Rodriguez after she was charged with theft and the city Administration for Children’s Services found her to be an unfit caregiver, according to published reports.

Police believed Rodriguez may have had something to do with Patrick’s disappearance because she apparently knew where his foster family lived, but ruled her out as a suspect after she took a lie detector test, according to published reports.

Police also followed up on leads that Patrick may have run off to relatives in Baltimore and Florida, but officials said that was not the case.

Rodriguez said Patrick’s disappearance has taken its toll on her.

“I’m not doing good at all. I try to take it one day at a time,” she said. “It’s hard for me to get up in the morning, but I’m trying to stay strong for my son.”

Thomas Tracy of Courier Life contributed reporting.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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