Baby Gabriel now missing a full year - CBS 5 - KPHO

Baby Gabriel now missing a full year

TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

On Dec. 23, 2009, baby Gabriel Johnson disappeared. His mother, Elizabeth Johnson, took him to Texas after breaking up with the boy's father.

But exactly what happened to Gabriel after that is still a mystery.

The boy with the piercing blue eyes continues to captivate a nation, but after a year of dead ends and double-talk, Gabriel's whereabouts remain unknown.

Shortly after she fled to Texas, Johnson made this chilling confession in a phone call recorded by Gabriel's father, Logan McQueary.

"You made me do this," said Johnson.

"You did not hurt Gabriel," responded McQueary.

"Yes I did. I suffocated him. I suffocated him, and he turned blue. I put him in a diaper bag and put him in a trash can," said Johnson.

That call launched a multi-state manhunt that tracked Johnson to Miami.

But Gabriel was nowhere to be found.

Refusing to take Johnson at her word, Gabriel's father traveled to where the boy was last seen alive, San Antonio.

"Until they prove me wrong, Gabriel's out there," McQueary told CBS5 News.

McQueary seemed to uncover clues that Gabriel became part of an underground adoption.

But shortly after his arrival in Texas, San Antonio police dropped a bombshell.

"We have officially opened up a murder case," Chief William McManus told the media outside the San Antonio police department last February.

A search of a nearby landfill found nothing, and while the Texas investigation floundered, a Scottsdale, Ariz. woman turned the case on it's head.

Tempe police learned that Tammi Smith and her husband Jack, had been trying to adopt Gabriel for more than a month, without the father's consent.

"I made a poor decision back when I met Elizabeth," said Tammi Smith.

Once behind bars in Maricopa County, Johnson changed her story, telling investigators that it was Tammi Smith who arranged for an anonymous couple in Texas to take Gabriel from Elizabeth in a public park.

Smith said that's a lie, and that she has no idea where Gabriel is.

To try to get to the truth, investigators secretly taped a phone argument between the two women, where they try to blame each other.

"You said you killed him. You said you killed the baby. So you know what America believes, is that you killed the baby," said Tammi Smith. "Yeah, I bet you're loving that, huh?" responded Johnson. "We're loving that?" asked Smith. "Because it makes you look so innocent," said Johnson.

Both Smith and Johnson have been charged with conspiracy to commit custodial interference. Johnson also faces charges of kidnapping and child abuse. But if this mystery adoption couple exists, they have not come forward to return Gabriel to his father. And if Elizabeth truly did kill her boy, as she originally claimed, investigators simply can't find his body.

One year later, that's where this case sits. Because of an interrogation that her attorneys say was improper, Johnson thinks she will soon get out of jail on a technicality.

Regardless, it will be months before Johnson or Smith go to trial. And with every passing day, Gabriel gets older and the trail grows colder.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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READ: Baby Gabriel's father pleads guilty to theft (4/16/2012) Judge tosses evidence in 'Baby Gabriel' case (4/16/2012) Father of missing Arizona baby to testify (4/12/2012) 2 women about to face More>>

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