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Deaf Boy Sabath Reunited With Mother

June 29, 1988

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ A partially deaf boy whose identity has been a mystery since he was found roaming the streets last year was reunited Tuesday with his mother after he was shown a picture of her and began crying, authorities said.

Authorities said it would take three days to confirm through medical records that the little boy they called Sabath actually is 9-year-old Jose de Jesus Garcia Aguilera. But they said there he did indeed appear to have found his mother.

″Good,″ said a reticent Micaela Aguilera de Garcia when asked how it felt to see her son, who is nicknamed Chuy, for the first time since last October. She repeatedly hugged her teary-eyed boy.

Ms. Aguilera, 32, a maid in the Gulf Coast port of Tampico, said her son went to Monterrey, Mexico, last October to see his father, Salomon Garcia Betancourt, and ran away from there.

The boy was found wandering the streets of Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican border town, in early November. Mexican authorities eventually contacted their United States counterparts because they thought the boy might be American.

At the first reunion, where reporters were not present, Chuy was shown pictures of his mother and grandmother, said Olivia Espinoza Bermudez, director of the Mexican child welfare agency in Juarez.

″We showed the picture to Sabath ... and right away he started mentioning that was his mother,″ she said, adding that he began crying. Then, when his mother was allowed in the room, ″he just ran and saw her and cried, but he was happy,″ Mrs. Bermudez said.

″He’s very excited, and he has already packed his things and is ready to go,″ she said.

Tuesday night, reporters watched as the two communicated in an impromptu sign language.

″Why do I think he’s my son?″ Ms. Aguilera said. ″Because of his scars - on his leg, his head and his left arm.″

She pointed to a scar below Chuy’s left knee and said it was from a dog bite. ″Bad dog,″ she said to Chuy in English. ″Bad dog,″ the boy answered back in a deep voice.

The two laughed and hugged tightly.

The boy, who speaks only a few words and communicates primarily by gestures and drawings, had been staying at the Juarez center for the Development of the Integrated Family, a Mexican federal child-welfare agency.

Authorities at the center became intrigued when they noticed the boy seemed to prefer American food and cartoon characters, so they called in their American counterparts at the Texas Department of Human Services. They and the FBI publicized the boy’s case and tried to find his origins.

Last week, when Juarez authorities were notified that Ms. Aguilera was missing a son matching the description of the boy in Juarez, the El Paso Times sent a reporter and photographer to the Gulf port to track her down.

They did and showed her a picture of the boy known as Sabath. She and other relatives confirmed that Sabath was one of her five children. The Times chartered a flight to the El Paso area Tuesday to reunite the mother and child.

Ms. Aguilera said she left her husband in June 1987. She and her children went to live with her mother in Tampico.

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