The father of an 8-year-old Riverside County boy, who was reported missing by his mother in early March, faces a murder charge after police determined the case is now a homicide investigation.
New information revealed in an arrest warrant detailed shocking accusations, including that Norah McIntosh's father allegedly tortured the boy.
Bryce Daniel McIntosh, 32, is charged with first-degree murder charge in the disappearance of his son, Noah. Investigators joined Riverside County prosecutors and FBI agents Thursday in sharing the latest details about the investigation.
Since March 13, Noah's father and mother, 36-year-old Jillian Marie Godfrey, both of Corona, have been behind bars. Both were arrested on suspicion of child abuse after the boy disappeared sometime between Feb. 20 and March 12.
"There is no more trust a child should have than in their parents," Corona Police Chief George Johnstone said. "It truly is saddening. And it truly tears at our hearts to see this type of case.
"It is unfortunate and with a heavy heart that the missing child investigation... has now been escalated to a homicide case. Our search for Noah continues."
Police said Thursday that the investigation is now a homicide case and recommended a murder charge to county prosecutors. The charge against Bryce McIntosh include a special circumstances charge of torture.
If convicted, he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
What Johnstone described as trace evidence was collected during the investigation that convinced investigators the boy is a homicide victim. Trace materials include those that might be transferred from one individual to another during violent crimes, such as hair, fibers and fabric.
"At this point, we're confident that it's a homicide, it's a first-degree murder, and that we have the evidence necessary to charge Mr. McIntosh," said district attorney Mike Hestrin.
The arrest warrant alleges Bryce tortured his son, including forcing Noah to sit in a bathtub full of extremely cold or hot water for up to six hours at a time. It details that he allegedly handcuffed the boy.
The warrant also claims the boy's mother not only knew about the abuse, but documented it on her cellphone.
Investigators said that on March 2, Godfrey said she saw Bryce take Noah into the bathroom and heard the boy say, "Why are you hurting me?"
Godfrey told investigators she left the apartment the next day and that Noah had not yet come out of the bathroom.
The warrant also lists specific items found in Bryce McIntosh's apartment and in his black BMW, including handcuffs, zip ties, purple latex gloves, a manual for a Ninja blender and schoolwork bearing Noah's name.
They also say surveillance video shows Bryce buying a 32-gallon trash can, 24-inch bolt cutters, muriatic acid, two long cuffed gloves and a large bottle of drain opener.
According to the warrant, investigators also found parts of a Ninja blender and a plastic bag with blood in a desert area east of Temecula.
Detectives have searched locations in Aguanga, Murrieta and the Temescal Valley about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Both parents were due back in court on April 8. The boy's mother is not facing additional charges.
The Corona-Norco Unified School District said in a statement that staff members and students are devastated.
"It is with heavy hearts the Corona-Norco Unified School District mourns the loss of Todd Academy student Noah McIntosh. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends who are affected by this unspeakable tragedy. There is no question that news of this nature affects our entire community. Together, we honor and pay tribute to Noah for being a wonderful loving boy."
Detectives have combed hills near the apartment complex in the 4500 block of Temescal Canyon Road where Noah was last seen, and where both his parents live separately.
Both defendants are being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside, California — McIntosh in lieu of $1 million bail, and Godfrey on $500,000 bail. She reportedly contacted police when McIntosh refused to let her see Noah earlier this month.
The woman's father told reporters that he believed McIntosh was responsible for Noah's disappearance and feared that the defendant's "terrible temper" may have led to something sinister.
"Right now, it's a no-body homicide," Hestrin said. "There are some additional difficulties, however as the chief mentioned, the investigation has led to significant evidence at this point we are confident that it's a homicide of first degree murder."
Police spokesman Sgt. Chad Fountain said that despite "numerous attempts" to make contact with McIntosh, the defendant refused to speak with police two weeks ago.
"It does not make sense that the parents of an 8-year-old child would not know his whereabouts," said Johnstone.
Officers served a search warrant at the location on March 13 and found the defendant inside the apartment with his 11-year-old daughter, whose identity was not released, but there was no sign of Noah, Fountain said. He said based on the initial investigation, detectives determined there was sufficient evidence to justify arresting the parents for alleged child abuse.
Tony Shin contributed to this report.