Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Qua’mere Sincere Rogers
If Qua’mere Sincere Rogers is alive, he is 6 years old. He would be old enough to be in first grade.
But his Syracuse family has not seen him in at least three years. Authorities have been searching since receiving an anonymous tip in 2009 that the boy was missing. He had not been seen in about eight months at that point. Authorities now fear he may be dead.
“In the simplest terms, we are treating this case as a homicide,” said Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick. “We have been for quite some time and are investigating it on an active basis.”
The boy’s disappearance is expected to become a subplot in a rape trial that begins today of a man accused of having sex with an underaged girl. The girl, who was 15 at the time, is Qua’mere’s mother.
The man, Damion Davis, 41, is the last person known to have had custody of the boy before he went missing. Davis says he gave the boy away to a man in Brooklyn. Authorities do not believe him.
Little is known about the little boy who played Nerf basketball with his teenage uncle and was a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. Prosecutors say the boy grew up surrounded by violence. His grandmother says she has not seen him since 2007 or 2008.
“I don’t know,” said Annie Williams. “It’s been so long.”
Qua’mere’s mother met Davis in 2004 when she was 15 and gave birth to her child at Crouse Hospital when she was 16, according to court records. The mother’s name is redacted in court records and The Post-Standard does not identify victims in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Williams said her daughter moved to live with a friend in Auburn when she was 14 or 15. She did not learn of her daughter’s pregnancy until she returned to Syracuse about a month before giving birth to Qua’mere in June 2005. Williams said she does not know how her daughter met Davis.
he said her daughter and Davis lived in Utica and then on James Street in Syracuse. “Once in a blue moon, she would stay with me,” Williams said. The daughter told Williams that Davis was keeping her locked in the couple’s home until she finally escaped by climbing out a window, Williams said.
Que’mere’s mother told investigators she handed over the boy in 2007 to Davis after he knocked out two of her front teeth, said Jeremy Cali, an assistant district attorney. “I was scared to return and didn’t go back,” the mother said in a statement to police in 2009.
She said Davis used an alias with her. “Damion lied to me about everything,” she told police. “When we first met, I was 15 years old and he told me he was 18 years old.”
Neither Qua’mere’s mother nor her family reported the boy as missing or in danger. “I figured she (Qua’mere’s mother) knew about it, and I was not going to worry about it,” Williams said.
“It seems this boy lived in some awful circumstances and did go unnoticed for quite a while,” said Cali, the prosecutor.
An anonymous tipster alerted Syracuse police in the summer of 2009 that the boy was missing, Cali said. Authorities learned the boy was last seen in late November 2008 when he would have been 3, Cali said.
Syracuse police photoDamion Davis, formerly of 112 S. Carbon St., Syracuse, told police he gave Qua'mere Sincere Rogers to a man in Brooklyn. Davis was charged with abandonment, but that charge was dropped when investigators decided his story was not credible. Police think the little boy has been killed.
Davis, however, told authorities that he gave the boy to a man in Brooklyn when the child was between 8 and 12 months old. Davis said he believed the man was named Yusef Ben Ali and it was the only time they had met. Davis did not provide a location for the encounter.
Davis said the man was a member of the United Nation of Moors and might have taken the child to Georgia with the group. The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors has been described in news reports as a quasi-religious cult based in Georgia with about 500 members, many originally from Brooklyn.
The Moors, Davis told police, were going to take care of the boy until he got back on his feet. Davis said he was given a phone number, but that the contact information was no good.
Davis was charged in October 2009 with abandonment of a child, a felony, but that charge was dropped because investigators decided Davis’ story was “not credible,” Cali said.
Williams, however, believes her grandson is living in Brooklyn. She has no evidence other than she believes that is where Davis’ mother lives. She suspects the child is living with her.
But authorities say that isn’t true.
“We have followed up on numerous leads, including sending detectives to New York City to look for the child, and we have not been able to locate the child,” said Sgt. Tom Connellan, spokesman for the Syracuse Police Department.
While the abandonment charge was dropped, Davis, formerly of 112 S. Carbon St., remains charged with third-degree rape. He was accused of engaging in sex with an underage girl — Qua’mere’s mother — between August and November 2004. Authorities originally contended that relationship led to the boy’s birth in June 2005.
Williams said she received a subpoena Friday to testify in Davis’ trial, and a Syracuse police detective gave her news that shocked her: Based on DNA evidence, Davis isn’t Qua’mere’s father. Cali acknowledges DNA will be used at Davis’ trial. He declined to say what it will reveal.
Regardless of his relationship with the boy, authorities describe Davis as the last person to have custody of Qua’mere. “We believe he (Davis) was involved in some manner in the death of the little boy,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s difficult to prove a negative, but we have no evidence that the boy was given away or anything like that.”
With the boy missing, it’s hard to prove he was murdered.
“We don’t have a crime scene; we don’t have a body,” Fitzpatrick said. He believes Davis probably had custody of the boy until he disappeared at the age of 3.
During that time, the two kept company with violent people, Cali said.
On Dec. 4, 2008, one friend of Davis brutally assaulted another friend, who frequently baby-sat Qua’mere, authorities said. The victim’s neck was cut with a knife.
Cali said authorities believe the man was attacked after he asked questions about the boy’s whereabouts, but the judge didn’t permit that theory to be used in the trial. Last March, the man was sentenced to seven years in state prison.
And late last year, Davis was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison in a domestic violence case. Davis was accused of restraining and injuring a woman while armed with a metal pick attached to a screwdriver handle.
As with the case of the baby sitter, the jury was not told about a motive for Davis’ attack, but authorities believe he wanted to punish the woman for talking to police about the missing child, Cali said.
Police are not any closer to learning what happened to Qua’mere. There are no new leads, Connellan said.
“There’s a good probability that Damion Davis knows what has happened to the child, but he’s not cooperating,” Connellan said.
Police hope someone might recognize Davis or remember seeing him with the child. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 442-5330.
Ha’zeem Johnson, the brother of Qua’mere’s mother, is also seeking the public’s help. He created a Facebook page and a YouTube video that list Williams’ phone number. The YouTube video has no sound — just the boy’s photo and a request for anyone with information to call.
Johnson, 17, doesn’t have many memories of the nephew who is 11 years his junior. He has not seen the boy since 2007. “We watched ‘SpongeBob’ and stuff like that,” Johnson recalled.
Created in 2010, the online appeal has generated no leads.
Authorities are not optimistic.
“There’s nothing new on the status of that child,” Connellan said.
“In the vast majority of missing children this young . . . it invariably ends up badly,” Fitzpatrick said. “Sadly, that’s what we think has happened here.”