Trenton Duckett case: 14 years missing and mystery continues

Two-year-old Trenton Duckett disappeared more than 14 years ago.  There remains more questions than answers since the Florida boy vanished without a trace.

According to Leesburg Police, on Aug. 27, 2006, Trenton's mother, Melinda Duckett, told them she had put Trenton to bed in his bedroom at their Leesburg apartment at 7 p.m. She had a couple of friends over to watch a movie and when she went to check on him two hours later, he was gone.

One of Melinda's friends called 911 to report the boy missing and then handed the phone over to Melinda.  She was unable to answer some of the simple, pertinent questions asked by a 911 dispatcher.

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"What was Trenton wearing, honey?" the dispatcher asked. "I don’t know. He was ready for bed," Melinda Duckett replied.  "You don’t know what you dressed him in before he went to bed?" the dispatcher responded. "Um, he might not have shoes on, shirt off," Melinda Duckett answered.

Investigators showed up to Melinda Duckett’s apartment, finding Trenton’s bedroom window open, the screen slashed, but nothing added up. 

What happened to Trenton?  That’s a question that's been plaguing the boy's father, Josh Duckett, every single day since he was reported missing.

“Here we are 14 years later and we’re still at day one. We don’t have any further answers than what we had the very first night,” Josh Duckett told FOX 35 News.  “No footprints outside, no fingerprints, no DNA, no clothing, scrapes, nothing. They’ve proved from science and all of that that the screen was cut from the inside.”

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As Leesburg police detectives, the FBI, family and strangers helped search for the missing boy, investigators focused on Melinda Duckett. They even called her the only suspect in Trenton’s disappearance. She was the last person who’d seen the boy.  But, there was a problem.

“There's just no evidence. Some will argue that he was killed. Some will argue that he was maybe handed off. When I look at the case, I see a missing kid with no real good explanation to what happened to him,” Leesburg Police Detective Brian Cash told FOX 35 News back in 2011.

Thirteen days after Trenton disappeared, Melinda Duckett committed suicide. The big question, could this case have gone in a different direction?   

On Nov. 17, 2020, Leesburg police told FOX 35 News some new information in the investigation. Investigators confirmed that back on Sept. 9, 2006, detectives had a signed warrant in hand to arrest Melinda Duckett on unrelated charges, and while investigators were mulling over whether it would be a good idea to bring her in and squeeze her for information in Trenton’s case, Melinda Duckett killed herself that very day.

Josh Duckett tells FOX 35 News that he just learned about the signed warrant in August 2020 from a retired detective who showed up at the yearly candlelight vigil the Duckett’s hold for Trenton. He questions why investigators didn’t make a move. 

“It’s easier to get information out of someone who’s not cooperating than someone who’s not here,” Duckett said.

Trenton would be 16 years old now. The National Center for Mission and Exploited Children released an age progression photo last year of what he could look like. 

Leesburg police say Trenton’s case is still an open and active missing person's investigation. And, they still get tips.

“Periodically. Sometimes we might get a couple within a couple of months. Sometimes we might go six months without getting anything,” said Leesburg Police Captain Lee Iozzi. 

Josh Duckett is still holding on to hope that he’ll see his son again. 

“We always say we have to prepare ourselves for the worst and hope for the best,” Josh Duckett said.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.