Mom Died by Suicide After 2-Year-Old Son Vanished in 2006, but Family Thinks Boy Is ‘Alive Out There’

Steve Helling
·3 min read

On August 27, 2006, a young mother called 911 from her home in Leesburg, Florida, to report the disappearance of her 2-year-old son.

Melinda Duckett, then 20, told the dispatcher that her son Trenton had vanished from his bedroom while she was watching a movie with some friends.

"He was ready for bed,” she breathlessly told the dispatcher. “He might have had his shoes off and his shirt off. He had a pair of jean shorts. He’s only 2 years old." Police arrived on the scene and discovered that the screen to Trenton's bedroom window had been cut. The boy had vanished without a trace.

For more than 14 years, the case has confounded authorities -- and haunted Trenton's family.

"We are still actively searching for him," Trenton's maternal grandmother, Beth Eubank, tells PEOPLE. "Somebody has to know something. Someone has to have answers."

Although Melinda Duckett was the prime suspect in the investigation, she was never arrested. She appeared on the Nancy Grace TV show a few weeks later and gave conflicting information about Trenton's disappearance. During the broadcast, a combative Grace accused Duckett of being evasive.

RELATED: A Fla. Toddler Vanished and then His Mom Died by Suicide — But After 14 Years, Family Still Has Hope

The day after taping the show, Duckett wrote a 2-page letter addressed to "the public." In the note, she expressed her love for Trenton, and complained about being treated with "ridicule and criticism." She left the letter on the dashboard of her car before shooting herself.

The loss has been devastating for Eubank, who has had to deal with the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her grandson. "It has been hard," she tells PEOPLE. "But we're never going to give up looking for Trenton. He's alive out there somewhere."

For more on Trenton's baffling case — and those of other missing children — subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

"[Melinda] was a young mother who was doing her best" Eubank continues. "We just need to know what happened to Trenton. I don't want him to be forgotten."

Trenton would now be 16 years old, which Eubank says is significant. "This is the age where he would start driving. He'll need his birth certificate to get paperwork. Maybe he doesn't even know that he's missing until he starts looking for paperwork."

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Late last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released an age-progressed photo of what Trenton Duckett would look like as a teenager. Eubank hopes that makes a difference.

"I’ve never given up hope that we’ll find him," she says. "I want him to know that he's loved and he's missed, every day."

Anyone with information about Trenton’s whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or the Leesburg Police Department at 1-352-787-2121.

Related: Inside two Oregon girls who vanished on the way to school

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