7-year-old Jamal Abdul' Faruq and his 8-year-old brother Basil were enjoying spring break from school in Richmond, Virginia. On April 16, 1990, the boys asked their mom, Tambar Ellis, if they could go outside to play, CNN reports. Tambar let the boys go outside while she took a brief 30- minute nap. Her boys played with the other children in the neighborhood and walked themselves to school each day, so Tambar had no concerns about them going outside.
Tambar worked the night shift at a local DuPont factory and was tired from her job. When she woke up 30 minutes later, went outside, and called for her sons, she was unable to locate them.
"After about maybe four or five minutes of looking for your kids, you go through a wave of different emotions," Tambar told CNN. "You know they're not up in someone's house, because they knew I wouldn't have allowed it. ... I couldn't believe they weren't within hearing distance."
After 45 minutes of searching the apartment complex, neighborhood store, playgrounds, and more, Tambar called the police. During this time, Tambar was in the Army Reserves. Several soldiers joined the team of officials, search dogs, and helicopters looking for Basil and Jamal. Authorities launched an intense investigation into the disappearance of Basil and Jamal.
Three days after they disappeared, their parents received horrific news. A truck driver at a Chesterfield landfill 10 miles from their family home noticed a body protruding from a plastic bag. It was Basil. He was bound with duct tape, his mouth gagged, his skull was fractured, and he had been stabbed twice in the back. The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be stab wounds, and the skull fracture occurred after his death. Investigators scoured the landfill for Jamal and even traced the truck carrying Basil, but they were unsuccessful.
Their mother and father were investigated and fully cooperated. Authorities feel they are in no way responsible for the malicious acts against their children.
In 1990 DNA testing was unavailable, but in 2010, investigators announced they would be testing the duct tape Basil was bound with.
Authorities also received two anonymous tips Jamal was living in Hinesville, Georgia, after an America’s Most Wanted airing. They received information that Jamal was seen at a Wal-Mart in Hinesville.
Investigators went to the Wal-Mart to review video footage, but they never located Jamal in the footage or verified the identity of the caller.
"There wasn't anyone we could connect with," Major Thomas Cribbs of the Hinesville Police Department told CNN. "We had nobody to go back and talk to, to ask them, 'Where did you see this person? What can you tell me?' "
Detectives believe there is a strong possibility Jamal is alive, and they will find the person(s) responsible.
"You hear of Jaycee Dugard," Tambar Ellis told CNN, referring to the California woman who was abducted at age 11 and found alive last year, 18 years later. "Anything is possible. I don't give up," she added.
Jamal Abdul' Faruq has never been found, and no suspects have been named in his disappearance or the murder of his brother, Basil.
Jamal was 4'5" and weighed 47 pounds when he vanished.
If you have any information, please contact Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.