The remains of a toddler reported missing on Christmas Eve were found the next day in a northern Wake County lake, miles away from where he lived.
But a search warrant made public Thursday indicates that whatever happened to 2-year-old Tristan Blue took place in the Southwest Raleigh apartment where he lived with his parents, who have both been charged with his death.
Tristan’s father, Steven Blue, 31, has been in the Wake County jail since Christmas Day, charged with the first-degree murder of his son.
The child’s mother, Briana Loriel Dangerfield, is also in jail on charges of child neglect, accessory after the fact of murder, destroying a body or remains to conceal a death and altering, stealing or destroying criminal evidence.
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Dangerfield, 25, called 911 on Christmas Eve afternoon to report that Tristan was missing and told the dispatcher that the boy knew how to unlatch their apartment door.
But Blue later offered investigators a different account of what happened to his son. Blue told detectives that Tristan was “unresponsive” when he was taken from his home at 5461-1 Portree Place, according to a search warrant made public Thursday.
After talking with Blue, investigators had determined that he had used his car, a 2004 Ford Taurus, to take his son to Beaver Dam Lake, near a popular set of mountain bike trails in the Falls Lake State Recreation Area, and disposed of the child’s body, according to the search warrant.
On Dec. 26, police announced they had found human remains consistent with a child Tristan’s age.
Investigators have not yet disclosed how the boy died.
The search for Tristan began after Dangerfield called 911 just before 3:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve to report that he was missing.
Dangerfield later told investigators she had arrived home from work sometime between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. Before falling asleep on a recliner in the living room, Dangerfield told police she looked in the bedroom and saw what she thought was Blue and their son in bed asleep, according to the warrant.
Dangerfield told the investigators she woke up around 12:30 p.m. and that the front door of the apartment was open. When she went to close it, she discovered a package at the door.
Dangerfield said that when she went into the bedroom, she saw Blue but not her son. The couple said they searched the area for the child and then called police when they could not find him, according to the warrant.
Investigators applied for a search warrant just before 3 p.m. on Christmas Day. By then, police say they had learned that “the body of Tristan Blue was dumped by Steven Blue in the area of Falls Lake,” the warrant says.
In addition to searching for the boy, investigators searched the couple’s apartment and Blue’s Ford Taurus. Among the items they recovered was a long-sleeved Batman shirt found in the house and a pair of gray, Okie Dokie sweatpants in the car – both items of clothing the couple said Tristan was wearing when he went missing.