Judge allows civil suit to proceed alongside criminal investigation

On a June morning in 2010, a 7-year-old boy Oregon boy went to his school's science fair, where he shared with his peers and their parents everything he knew about tree frogs. According to his father and stepmother, no one has seen him since. The boy's mother, who has recently filed a $10 million civil suit against the stepmother, is not so sure.

The mother claims that not only does the stepmother know the whereabouts of her son, but that she is responsible for what happened to him. Authorities began investigating the boy's disappearance on the day of the fair, when he did not return home on the afternoon bus. Since then, police have devoted 28,000 man hours to the case.

The judge who recently ruled that the civil suit against the stepmother be allowed to proceed is calling the stepmother a "prime suspect" in the boy's disappearance. As such, he explained in his decision, the civil litigation has merit. Even though the criminal investigation has become protracted, it is imperative that the civil case proceed swiftly. The more time that passes, the harder it will become to find the boy, he wrote.

However, since all citizens have the right to refrain from self-incrimination, she is not obligated to participate in a deposition or to answer any questions on the matter. Police have not officially named the stepmother as a suspect, but they have cited inconsistencies in the account she gave of the events of that June morning. They do know, however, that she did accompany the boy to the science fair.

The boy's father has filed for divorce from his wife since allegedly being told that she had attempted to hire someone to kill him. The stepmother has been unavailable for comment, releasing only perfunctory statements through her lawyer. She claims to have had no involvement with the child's disappearance.

Source: ABC News, "Kyron Horman's Stepmother called 'Prime Suspect' by Judge," Alyssa Newcomb, Aug. 22, 2012

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