GREENWICH - The adopted grandmother of 12-year-old Jaliek Rainwalker, who disappeared two months ago, said Tuesday it's unlikely the Greenwich boy is alive.
"I do not feel we will truly know what happened to Jaliek," said Barbara Reeley, the mother of Jaliek's foster mother, Jocelyn McDonald. "I think I hold out a maybe 2 percent chance that he's alive."
Reeley's comments came at a morning news conference with five former foster care providers for Rainwalker. The group announced plans to offer a $5,000 reward for any information that would lead to solving the mystery of his Nov. 1 disappearance.
The money is meant to supplement the $25,000 reward offered by Rainwalker's adoptive parents, Jocelyn McDonald and Stephen Kerr. That reward, as announced, will drop in value by $5,000 for each month the boy isn't found. As of Tuesday, that reward fell to $20,000. Rainwalker was last seen with his adopted father, who had picked him up from a respite home in Altamont.
The Find Jaliek Task Force plans to add $5,000 to its reward fund for each month that Kerr's reward decreases. A massive manhunt has yielded few clues in the disappearance. Police sought to question Kerr using a polygraph - a lie detector test - but he refused.
The families involved in the task force have set up a Web site, www.findjaliek.org, and plan to post pictures, stories and media updates about the case there.
"It will contain stories of our days, months and years with Jaliek," said Elaine Person, who hosted the boy at her Altamont respite home before he vanished. "The Web site is a work in progress with new additions added every day."
The families are also seeking donations to fund the effort. They said that if Rainwalker isn't found, the money raised will either be returned or donated to the Greenwich Public Library.
Reeley said both her daughter and Kerr were not welcome to help.
"My son-in-law (Kerr) has had bizarre behavior," Reeley said. "I think he's the only one that knows the truth, and he's not willing to come forward."
She said there had been an incident three years ago when Kerr held Rainwalker's head under water to discipline him. Reeley said she heard of the incident from her daughter.
"I should have called 1-800-ABUSE," Reeley said.
Rainwalker, who has been through a revolving door of foster homes and adoption programs, was born addicted to cocaine. Larry Schoen, who took care of Rainwalker for six years, said the boy would go into "rages."
Kerr, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, said he's pleased more people have joined the search for his son. But he was upset with the group's criticism.
"(What) I'd like the task force to do, if I had input into it, is to stop focusing on things that I may or may not have done," Kerr said. "(They should) get his picture out, to actually focus on finding Jaliek rather than how he may or may (not) have been treated over the past 12 years."
Kerr said he didn't recall the water-dunking incident that Reeley described.
Despite waning hope, Reeley's husband, Dennis Smith, said finding Rainwalker - dead or alive - is vital.
"The truth is important," Smith said. "Knowing the truth about Jaliek's disappearance is the most important thing here. It leads us to closure or forgiveness, if that's what's needed."