NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
September 11, 2000


CHILD MISSING UNDER SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
POLICE EXPAND SEARCH, RELEASE BOY'S PHOTOGRAPH

An 8-year-old Clearwater boy was reported missing this morning when his mother returned from a brief pre-dawn walk in her east Clearwater apartment complex.

ZACHARY BERNARDT (12-18-91) was reported missing at about 4:30 this morning by his mother, 29-year-old Leah Hackett, from their apartment (# 634) at the Savannah Trace complex at 2690 Drew Street. The boy's mother told Police that Zachary was put to bed at 10 p.m. Sunday, and when she returned from her walk this morning, he was not in his bed.

Zachary is described as a blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian boy, about 4-feet, six-inches tall and weighing about 60 pounds. He was last seen wearing nightclothes.

Clearwater Police Patrol Officers and Detectives, augmented by Police K-9 dogs, conducted an expansive search of Savannah Trace and areas surrounding the sprawling complex this morning, but found no signs of the missing child.

At this time, there is no indication of a parental abduction. While investigators continue searching the area, other Detectives are contacting Zachary's friends to see if the boy showed up at someone else's house, as other Detectives are showing the child's picture to residents in the area.

Detectives have provided copies of Zachary's picture to Tampa Bay area media outlets in the hope that someone in the area will recognize the boy and contact Clearwater Police with his location.

This is the extent of information available regarding the case at this time. For additional information, please contact Public Information Officer Wayne Shelor at 727-562-4333.

/s/
Sergeant Doug Barry
Crimes Against Children Unit