Oklahoma City police continue searching for 8-year-old who ran away while in DHS custody

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City police are still searching for an 8-year-old who ran away sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning from his grandmother’s apartment in the area of NW 50th and Independence.

Police sent out the alert on Sunday about 8-year-old Elijah Muhammad.

Even though he was considered a runaway, because of his age, police exhausted all efforts to find him.

"They called out off duty investigators, detectives, they actually came out to the scene, supervisors were called in from other units who were also off duty. They also pulled officers from other divisions,” said MSgt. Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

We now know Elijah is in DHS custody.

Family told us he had been temporarily placed over the weekend in his grandmother’s home while he was in between foster homes.

His mom, Atahia Muhammad, said her son ran away because he did not want to be placed in another foster home. She said he left a note behind and read a portion of it:

“'Sorry I had to run away. I love my family and I don’t want to get taken away from my family again. They were very mean to me at the foster care,'” she read.

Atahia’s three children were taken from her home back in May after allegations of abuse against their father, her husband. She said the allegations involve two other children not living in the home at the time.

And, Atahia said her 8 year-old is not the only one missing. Her 12-year-old son, also named Elijah, ran away six weeks ago from a foster home and still has not been located.

“I feel like DHS is not helping. And, to have your hands tied as a mother and you can’t protect your kids, you can’t comfort them...” she said. “They have failed me. Ya’ll are here to protect our kids or put kids in better situations.”

Police said they do not believe the kids are in imminent danger.

Atahia said they might very well be with someone they know but she’s desperate for any information.

"Maybe someone is helping but, if so, I just want to know that he's okay. I want to know that my 12-year-old is okay. And, just please tell me because I don't know,” she said.

DHS officials told us they are very concerned for the kids’ safety and they believe family or friends are possibly hiding the boys. They urge anyone with information to contact police.

Right now, DHS has 64 children they consider AWOL. All of them besides the two boys are over the age of 13 and classified as runaways.

And, while DHS officials said one missing child is one too many, they told us there are 8,400 children in state custody. So, that number of 64 represents less than 1 percent of the children in DHS custody.

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