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Bike of boy missing for 19 years is unveiled

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Convinced that someone, somewhere has crucial information about the disappearance of 11-year-old Arlin Henderson almost 19 years ago, FBI and sheriff's investigators publicly displayed his bicycle for the first time Tuesday.

"We will jog somebody's memory," said FBI Special Agent Billy Cox, who has worked on the case for years.

Charles Arlin Leon Henderson, of Moscow Mills, disappeared around 5 p.m. on July 25, 1991, while his mother cooked dinner. Arlin headed off on his yellow-and-black Huffy "White Lightning" bike, looking for friends to play with. He was wearing a camouflage T-shirt and pants, a tear in the knee, with black tennis shoes and gray socks with red stripes.

His last words to his mother: "Save me some Polish sausage, Mom."

Arlin's bike was found on North Ethlyn Road roughly 11 weeks later and 10 miles away from home. The bike was clean and the tires full of air, with his initials still etched above the pedals.

The bike was a gift for his 11th birthday, and he'd been promised a go-kart if he kept the bike clean and in good condition for a year, said his mother, Debra Henderson-Griffith.

Since that time, Arlin's family and friends have held periodic events to keep his name and photo in the news. There is also a website, www.lookforarlin.com.

Last year, they got Arlin's age-progressed picture on the back of driver T.J. Bell's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pickup.

The family deals with the loss every day, his mother told reporters on Tuesday, Arlin's 30th birthday.

In 2001, a man confessed to a role in Arlin's murder. He later admitted lying about his confession and was sentenced to seven years in prison for perjury.

Asked whether she thought Arlin was still alive, Griffith said that in their heart, "every mother wants to believe that," then added "but in your mind, it's sort of hard to believe."

Griffith said that prayer has kept her going. "I believe in miracles. And I'm going to hold on to that."

And she sent a message to her son: "I miss you. I love you and I hope you've had a good life. I'd like to have been a part of it."

Investigators have interviewed and reinterviewed relatives, neighbors and the names they've been given by tipsters over the years. A $10,000 reward has been in place since 1997.

The FBI has even talked to Michael Devlin, currently serving 74 life sentences for the abductions of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. But Cox said investigators had "no link" between Devlin and Arlin "at this point."

Asked about the fingerprint powder dusting Arlin's bike, an evidence sticker and a red arrow pointing to what appeared to be a fingerprint, Cox said, "Draw your own conclusions."

Anyone with information is asked to call 314-589-2500 or 1-800-843-5678.

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