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While family and friends of 17-year-old Tobias McLean — the stepson of Billy Jo McLean of Sanford, accused of murdering Tobias’ mother and sister on Monday — are publicly calling for an AMBER Alert for his disappearance, the N.C. Center for Missing Persons shed some light today on why no alert has been issued.

An official with the Center told The Rant that it’s likely investigators in the case — Sanford PD and the FBI — have credible reason to believe McLean is no longer in North Carolina. In the FBI’s official “wanted” statement, they said Billy Jo McLean has likely fled to Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., or Maryland. The official also stated that while the Center for Missing Persons is the authorizing agency for AMBER Alerts, local law enforcement agencies must make the request before an alert is sent. As of Thursday morning, no request had been made.

CLICK HERE: Tobias McLean meets all criteria for an AMBER Alert, according to the N.C. Center for Missing Persons

Sgt. Vinnie Frazer of the Sanford Police Department said Thursday he could not comment on the ongoing investigation, only saying police are “actively searching” for Billy Jo McClean and Tobias and are doing everything in their power to assist other law enforcement agencies joining in the search.

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Billy Jo McLean

Billy Jo McLean is wanted in the murder of his wife, Calandra McLean, and her 13-year-old daughter, Tashonna Cameron, who were found dead Monday afternoon in their apartment at 916 Clark Circle in Sanford. According to WNCN News, their apartment was intentionally set on fire Monday, and fire officials arrived to find Calandra’s body bound with duct tape and Tashonna’s body in a bathtub. Billy Jo McLean was reportedly found on surveillance video purchasing gasoline at a nearby convenience store 12 minutes before the fire was reported.

Authorities believe Billy Jo McLean kidnapped his stepson, who reportedly has a medical condition that requires medication currently not in his possession. Billy Jo McLean was last seen driving a 2001 Ford Windstar with license plate number CJX 6906. He is considered to be armed and dangerous.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Perhaps because of the lack of a national alert, media coverage for the search for Billy Jo McLean hasn’t spread much further than North Carolina, save a few stories in Maryland and Northern Virginia, most of which lack photos of the suspect or his stepson.

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Tobias McLean and his sister, Tashonna Cameron

The story, however, has been covered extensively by The Sanford Herald (subscription required) and Raleigh-area TV stations (WNCN, ABC11, WRAL). All have done well to not only provide details (and more importantly, images) of Billy Jo McLean’s disappearance, but have also released details of the murder and reactions from neighbors and friends.

The Herald’s July 14 story, “It’s Just So Unreal” (subscription required), paints a vivid picture of the shock and pain felt by neighbors of the McLean family (though they could have done without giving the addresses of those speaking while an accused murderer is on the loose). ABC11 had an equally powerful report, which included a public plea by Joann Jackson, Tobias’ grandmother.

“Tobias, if you listening or you get to see this, your grandmomma’s calling out. Call me. Get to a phone somehow or another and call us so we know where you are because we love you and we’re praying that God would bring you back to us.”

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