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July 11, 2013

Missing Cooperstown boy found in Utica

Mistaken by bus driver for child's brother, police say

A three-house missing-person search for a young boy in Cooperstown turned out to be a case of mistaken identity when the boy was found Monday afternoon in Utica.

According to police, 7-year-old Mutume Waddimba was found “safe and sound” at the Utica Cerebral Palsy Center after a bus driver thought she was picking up his 5-year-old brother, Titus. Mutume apparently got on the bus while his mother was telling the driver that Titus wasn’t going to the center’s summer program.

“We got a tip at 12:53 p.m. that maybe the boys got mixed up and he got on the bus by mistake. We followed up and it was confirmed at 1:17 p.m.,” said Cooperstown Police Chief Mike Covert. “The family has only lived there a week. The bus driver knew she was supposed to stop at their house. She knew she was supposed to pick up a small boy, but she didn’t know she was picking up the wrong boy.”

Both Mutume and Titus were described as non-verbal, special-needs children, which may have added to the confusion. In addition, at various points during the day, Mutume was described as a 5-year-old; even his mother, Prisca, apparently gave the police his wrong date of birth, telling them that Mutume was born 11-17-2008 and Titus was born 11-24-2008. Mutume was apparently born in 2005, Covert said.

After it was confirmed that Mutume was in Utica, the search was called off and state police took Prisca and the boys’ father, Dr. Anthony Waddimba, to get their child.

Dr. Waddimba works at Bassett Medical Center.

The ordeal began just after 10 a.m. when Prisca went to check on Mutume, who she thought was playing in the basement of the family’s home on Glen Avenue. She reported him missing at 10:18 a.m. just three minutes after he got on the bus.

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