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Wishing Again For Missing Boy

Robbie Romero found?

The 7-year-old Romero went missing from his south-side Santa Fe home more than a decade ago, on a June evening in 2000. His body has never been found, and his fate has remained unknown, although over the years, rumors about that fate have abounded. Most, as his once-again disappointed mother noted Friday, have had something to do with where Robbie’s remains might be found.

But last week’s rumor was different: A young man named Robbie had turned up in Santa Fe and visited with Robbie’s mother. Moreover, he had cooperated with police and given them a DNA sample for testing.

In the brief moment before the test results were delivered, a bright universe of possibility seemed to open. The young man was more or less the right age. He bore an uncanny resemblance to photographs of Robbie as a child. Friends of the Romero family had noted the resemblance, found out that the young man seemed to have suspiciously few memories of his childhood, and put two and two — and Robbie’s mother and the young man — together.

And who didn’t want a happy ending to the Robbie story? On Thursday, in the wait for the DNA test results, that didn’t seem any more of a long shot than the return of kidnapped Utah teen Elizabeth Smart, say, or the recovery of other children abducted from their homes and raised by strangers. Not the usual scenario when a child goes missing, but not so unusual that it was outside the realm of possibility.

Then the test results came back. According to police, they showed conclusively that the young man couldn’t be the long-lost Robbie.

Robbie’s mother found herself devastated all over again, even though she had tried, she said, not to get her hopes up. Police weren’t happy either — as Santa Fe Police Chief Ray Rael put it at Friday’s news conference on the test results, “for a lot of officers here, it was personal. Everyone would love to solve this case.”

Many shared these feelings: The “Is it Robbie? No, it’s not” stories were the most read items on the Journal Santa Fe’s website.

Alas, for the family, “Robbie found” was a story too good to be true.