Investigators discovered two kilos of suspected cocaine in a Buffalo hotel room where a Florida family had been staying just before their 3-year-old son was discovered sleeping on a stranger’s porch and their burnt-out rental car was found nearby.
Authorities are still searching for the young boy’s parents Nicole Marie Merced-Plaud, 24, and Miguel Anthony Valentin-Colon, 31, in a complex case surrounded by mystery.
His parents, along with family friend Dhamyl Mirella Roman-Audiffred, 29, are all considered missing; however, human remains were discovered in the charred remnants of the family’s rental car and investigators released surveillance footage last week showing two people fleeing from the burning car with the 3-year-old boy in tow.
During a search of a hotel room the family had been staying in, investigators found 4.4 pounds of what they believe was cocaine inside a cooler, along with a second cooler that was empty, The Buffalo News reports.
The discovery could give investigators new clues about why the family was in Buffalo or why they could have been the possible target of violence.
Roman-Audiffred had also had once lived in Webster, a suburb of Rochester, according to local station WHEC.
The complicated case began one week ago when 3-year-old Noelvin Valentin was discovered sleeping in a cardboard box on a Buffalo woman’s front porch.
Buffalo Police located a burnt-out white Chyrsler Pacifica about a mile away from where Noelvin was discovered. They later confirmed the vehicle had been rented by the missing Florida family.
"I can't stress enough the vehicle was completely incinerated and the contents were nothing but ashes," Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said Thursday, according to the local paper.
Police also found human remains inside the car — but said it could take up to four weeks to positively identify the remains.
"Potentially all three of them are still alive. We have not identified the people in the vehicle," Rinaldo said.
Late last week, police released three different videos leading up to the fire, which they believe began around 3 a.m. on Sept. 16. In the first video, one man can be seen walking along a road toward the area where the vehicle was later discovered at 2:54 a.m.
Then, six minutes later at 3:01 a.m., the same man is seen again — this time with a second person and a small boy— as they run away from the direction of the vehicle. The first man, who appears to be carrying one or two gas cans, can be seen stopping along the way to put some type of clothing around his head.
Authorities say the videos are essential to the case and provide a “timeline” to the activities in the early morning hours.
“It gives us a timeline of how the child was not inside the vehicle. It gives us now two people who were present when this car started on fire, so its extremely important to us,” Rinaldo said.
Investigators are now asking anyone with information or surveillance footage from the area to contact authorities as they try to piece together what happened.
Noelvin is currently in the custody of Erie County Child Protective Services. His grandmother flew to New York to try to get custody of him last week, but that initial request was denied. A custody hearing has been set for Oct. 9.
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