Mother, aunt of missing 6-year-old California boy arrested, charged with murder

APPLE VALLEY, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - As the search continues for a 6-year-old boy with autism, his mother and aunt have been arrested in connection to his possible murder.

The family of 6-year-old Duke Flores says they are still hoping the boy is found safe, even after his mother and aunt have been charged with murder. (Source: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Dept/CNN)

Duke Flores, 6, was reported missing Thursday, but he may have been gone for more than two weeks. The boy’s grandmother says she was the last one to see him at his parent’s house on April 14.

Authorities discovered Duke was missing after responding to a request by a family member for a welfare check on the 6-year-old.

The boy’s mother, Jakee Contreras, was initially arrested and booked on a charge of child neglect for a delay in reporting him missing, investigators say. After a Saturday interview, she was booked for murder.

Detectives also arrested Duke’s aunt, Jennifer Contreras, and booked her for murder. Both women are being held without bail.

Despite the murder charges, the boy’s body has not been found.

Duke’s cousin, Jennifer Gutierrez, says Jakee Contreras changed her story about the missing 6-year-old multiple times.

At first, the mother allegedly said Duke was with an aunt. She then said the boy simply disappeared from the front yard, according to Jennifer Gutierrez.

“The mother says he was playing outside in the front, and she went inside, did some things inside, came back out - Duke was gone," Jennifer Gutierrez said.

Finally, Jakee Contreras claimed Duke vanished April 18, but she was scared to tell anyone he was missing.

Duke’s family says they are still hoping the 6-year-old is found safe. The boy’s uncle, Angel Gutierrez, says the family is having trouble wrapping their heads around his disappearance.

“I’ve known that kid since he was a baby. I remember I used to carry him in my arms… It’s emotional. I’m trying not to break down at the moment. I’m still staying strong for him,” Angel Gutierrez said.

The investigation is ongoing, and detectives say they are continuing to search for Duke.

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