PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — A 4-year-old autistic boy who was missing after four bodies were discovered near his Florida home has been found safe, authorities said Friday.
Police had “grave concerns” about Ismael Tristan Santisteban’s safety, saying he was believed to be with 28-year-old Adam Matos, who they would later name a suspect in the quadruple homicide.
“Thank God Tristan is OK,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
An investigative effort by an alphabet soup of Florida law enforcement agencies, plus tips from the public, helped lead police to Matos and Tristan at the Floridan Palace Hotel in Tampa, about 40 miles from the home in Hudson where the bodies were found.
The relationship between Tristan and Matos remained unclear — some told police they were father and son, and others described Matos as a “father figure” to the boy.
Pasco County sheriff’s deputies and Tampa police prepared their SWAT teams once the pair was found, but in the end used a less forceful approach to apprehend Matos.
Police lured Matos out of his hotel room with a “ruse,” Tampa police Chief Jane Castor said.
He didn’t put up a fight, Nocco said.
Castor said that investigators who have talked with Tristan report that the boy is unharmed and is cooperating with police.
Matos was arrested on aggravated assault charges stemming from an August 28 incident when he allegedly put a knife up to Tristan’s mother.
Matos is the suspect in the killings of the four adults — two men and two women — who were found on hill about three-quarters of a mile from the house in Hudson, Nocco said.
The names of the victims have not been released, pending confirmation of their identities via DNA tests, he said.
Matos was briefly employed as a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant down the street from the home, CNN affiliate Bay News 9 reported.
He worked there for about seven to 10 days but stopped coming in last week, according to managers at the restaurant.
“One day, he said he had to watch his son and then we never saw him,” said John Hill, the owner.
Managers said Matos last came to the restaurant on August 29 to pick up his last paycheck.