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Sunday marked one month since 11-year-old Xavior Harrelson disappeared from a mobile home park in Montezuma, and authorities have kept silent about the investigation for more than two weeks, releasing no new information, as a reward fund grows.
A benefit concert is planned for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Poweshiek County Fairgrounds at 425 East St. S in Grinnell. People are encouraged to wear orange — Xavior’s favorite color.
The concert is being organized by members of the Mollie’s Movement: Finding Others Facebook group, according to the event invitation. The group was started three years ago when rising University of Iowa sophomore Mollie Tibbetts, 20, disappeared while out for a run in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her body was found about a month later in a cornfield near Guernsey. In May, a jury found Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 26, guilty of her murder. The group now focuses on calling attention to other cases involving missing children.
Organizers say proceeds from the concert — which includes a silent auction and concession sales — will go to a reward fund set up earlier this month at Montezuma State Bank for information leading to the discovery of Xavior’s whereabouts. As of noon Monday, the fund had raised more than $25,000, a bank employee said.
Local country musician Adam Whitehead will headline the benefit. Whitehead told The Gazette on Monday he feels a personal connection to the case and wanted to help put the search for Xavior back in the spotlight.
“You know, my dad graduated from Montezuma High School, so we have a family connection to that town, and my stepson is 12 years old, almost the same age as Xavior, so I really felt the need to step up and help,” Whitehead said.
When event organizers reached out and asked him to play, Whitehead jumped at the chance.
“It's just one of those situations where I've got this platform … and I thought, you know, why not help out and raise as much awareness as possible that he’s still missing,” Whitehead said.
“It's a sad situation,” Whitehead continued. “You know, Xavior’s 11 years old, in a small town, and it’s tough. And, that county has been through much in the past few years, first with Mollie Tibbetts and now this. It’s like holy cow, man.”
Local musician Hunter Mason also will perform at the benefit.
Authorities say Xavior was last seen at the Spruce Village trailer park, where he lived with his mother, on the northwest edge of Montezuma. He disappeared after leaving home about 11 a.m. May 27.
The mobile home park is less than a mile from Diamond Lake County Park, which features more than 660 acres of wooded land, a 90-acre lake and roughly 120 campsites.
A call Monday to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation requesting an update on the investigation went unanswered.
In the early weeks of the investigation, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Assistant Director Mitch Mortvedt told The Gazette that investigators had conducted dozens of searches, interviewed 100 or more people and were running down and re-evaluating numerous tips and leads.
Investigators also have done background checks on people close to Xavior and those living in the vicinity, and looked into registered sex offenders in the area and those with criminal convictions. Mortvedt said that’s standard procedure in any missing persons case.
A digital tip line, fbi.gov/findxavior, was launched June 5 in the hopes of bringing in new leads.
Mortvedt has called the boy’s disappearance suspicious, but has repeatedly said there is no evidence that definitively points whether Xavior ran away, became lost or was abducted.
Xavior was last known to be wearing a red T-shirt, blue pajama pants and black high-top shoes. He has brown hair and blue eyes and is about 4 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 100 pounds. Anyone with any information related to Xavior’s disappearance should call the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 623-2107.
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