BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A burning car, a lost little boy and two dead bodies. Now, we're learning the key people who prosecutors believe are responsible are locked up, but not on the charges you would expect.
It was September, when that boy was found sleeping alone on a porch in Buffalo. The three-year-old boy, now known to all of us as Noelvin, was led away from the burning car where his parents bodies were later found.
Our I-Team has uncovered new information that connects notorious drug kingpins to this unthinkable crime.
Surveillance video, time-stamped September 16, 2019 at 3:01 a.m., shows two men, running from a burning minivan in Buffalo's Riverside neighborhood.
One has a three-year-old boy in hand; his parent's bodies were burning inside the van.
"I can't stress enough that the vehicle was completely incinerated," Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said.
Family would later identify those bodies as the remains of Nicole Plaud and Miguel Valentin-Colon, who rented that van and drove to Buffalo from Florida. They came with their son Noelvin.
The boy was found later that morning, sleeping on the porch of a home on Potomac. They also came with a friend, who is still missing.
Now, in court transcripts from a September hearing, obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team, federal prosecutors say one of the men in the surveillance video is Jariel Cobb. Cobb, along with four others, has been locked up on unrelated federal drug charges since late September.
Cobb is connected to a 2006 drug bust in Buffalo. Prosecutors say he ran a narcotics organization then, but was at it again, this time with a "drug conspiracy that dates back to 2016..."
A federal prosecutor says Cobb is connected to that conspiracy with Destenee Bell, Deanna Olbert, James Reed and Jahaan McDuffie. Prosecutors say the five people used two homes on Box Avenue as "either stash houses or distribution points for...marijuana and heroin."
"So, as a result of information about Jariel Cobb and his possible depiction in the video near this minivan that is found burnt to a crisp, law enforcement begins to investigate and look into any ties that Cobb, Reed, Bell and McDuffie have to do with this incident," a federal prosecutor said in arguments connected to the conspiracy case.
That federal prosecutor says for some time, the FBI had been watching two houses on Box Avenue. They had pole cameras set up around the area because of the drug activity. The FBI knew who had been coming and going, the people who were frequently there and the cars they were driving. The FBI, according to court documents, says the night of September 15 into September 16, the people they were watching acted in a way that was "strange" and "out of sorts."
The prosecutor said Destenee Bell's Dodge SUV was at the home on Box Avenue during a bonfire, late on September 15.
According to the prosecutor's argument in court, a red Kia Optima was often driven by Jariel Cobb. It is seen with Bell's SUV in the driveway at 225 Box Avenue.
The prosecutor says, footage recorded at a nearby home shows, "Jariel Cobb and James Reed showing up in the late hours of September 15 and throwing away or bringing back to a fire, approximately seven or eight contractor bags full of something." He said you couldn't see inside the bags because they are dark black.
The prosecutor says the bags were brought back to a "raging fire" from the red Optima.
In a recent search of that home, police found "human remains, which include bones...a gas can...torch fluid, bloody clothing." All of this was found "near a fire pit" built at that home on Box Avenue.
Then prosecutors say they found something even more disturbing on video.
"There apparently is an attempt to destroy evidence."
According to what was seen on the video, "...someone is wiping the back and interior of the Kia Optima...[and]...to see them wiping down the car, trying to destroy evidence, trying to get rid of evidence is concerning," that prosecutor said.
He said there is a drug conspiracy "that has something worse going on."
Still, weeks after this hearing, no charges have been filed against any of these five people in connection to:
- the burning mini van
- the death of a three-year-old's parents
- the disappearance of their friend
- leaving that three-year-old alone in the middle of the night.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office told the I-Team, they are not commenting.