Six months into Codi Bigsby search, still no trace of the 4-year-old

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been six months since Codi Bigsby was reported missing from his Hampton home, and there’s still no trace of the 4-year-old boy.

From massive search efforts and community vigils, to a mishandled police interrogation and felony charges lodged against Codi’s father, WAVY-TV 10’s investigative team has covered every new development in this case.

Our investigative team combed through all of our coverage of the six-month investigation and exclusively uncovered more detailed information about the interrogation of his father, Cory Bigsby, in the first few hours after Codi was reported missing. This is a comprehensive overview of everything we know about Codi Bigsby’s disappearance and the growing abuse and neglect case against his father.

Codi reported missing

Cory Bigsby reported his 4-year-old son, Codi, missing from their Buckroe Point apartment on Ranalet Drive just after 9 a.m. on Jan. 31, according to the Hampton Police Division. He told detectives that he discovered Codi missing when he woke up shortly after 7 a.m., according to court records obtained by 10 On Your Side’s investigative team.

Cory Bigsby told investigators he last saw Codi around 2 a.m. He said the 4-year-old was asleep and wearing all-black clothing and Spider-Man flip-flops. Codi’s disappearance immediately sparked a massive, multi-agency search effort, which included assistance from the FBI. HPD set up its command post at the Ranalet Drive townhome complex on Jan. 31, and 10 On Your Side reporters observed investigators on scene searching for evidence.

The Virginia State Police did not issue an Amber Alert for Codi because his disappearance did not meet the criteria for one, including reasonable belief by police that he was abducted. HPD investigators told the public they had no reason to believe Codi was abducted or that he was with known family members. VSP Sgt. Michelle Anaya confirmed that HPD did ask the agency if Codi’s case qualified for an Amber Alert, but were told it did not.

Codi lived in the apartment full-time with his father and three brothers. All of the children living in the home were aged five years and younger. The day Codi was reported missing was the same day the family was scheduled to move into a new house.

As investigators searched for Codi on that first day, Cory Bigsby and his three other sons were escorted to HPD headquarters just after 1 p.m. on Jan. 31. The 43-year-old father and his young sons waited in the lobby until about 2:30 p.m. when he spoke with a HPD detective and a FBI agent. At that time, Cory Bigsby was read his Miranda Rights and was advised that he was not under arrest. That conversation with investigators lasted until about 3 p.m., and Cory Bigsby volunteered to continue speaking with investigators later that night, court records show.

Cory Bigsby waited in the HPD headquarters lobby for about six hours until investigators spoke with him again. He complained of exhaustion and a headache and asked to be allowed to go home, according to court records.

“Do whatever you got to do,” Cory Bigsby told police. “Let me go home. This is torture on top of torture.”

While Cory Bigsby waited to speak with investigators, HPD Chief Mark Talbot addressed the public in a press conference held at the townhome complex. He confirmed that Cory Bigsby was answering investigators’ questions, but he also expressed concerns about the father’s timeline of the 4-year-old’s disappearance.

“We aren’t convinced it happened exactly when we found out about it,” Talbot said.

The interrogation

Cory Bigsby was taken into an interview room around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 and voluntarily took a polygraph test around 10 p.m. He was interrogated by a HPD detective and two FBI agents for about seven hours, court records state.

The first two-and-a-half hours of the interview were not recorded. Investigators began recording the interrogation just before midnight, and continued recording it until it ended around 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 1. According to court records, Cory Bigsby told investigators he was tired and wanted to go to sleep more than 20 times during the interview.

“I’ve been breaking down all day. At this point, I’m tired. I got my little boys in there. I want to go home. I want to go to sleep. I’ve done already been dragged through the dirt. I’ve done already gone through hell, and I’m not trying to go through anymore,” Cory Bigsby told a FBI agent at 12:28 a.m.

Investigators continued to question Cory Bigsby despite his repeated complaints of exhaustion and attempts to end questioning. They didn’t let him leave even though he was not under arrest, court records state.

“I don’t think going home is an option as far as what we’re going to do tonight,” a FBI agent told Cory Bigsby at one point in the interrogation.

WAVY obtained this image of the Hampton P.D. and FBI interrogating Cory Bigsby in the early morning hours of Feb. 1, 2022. (Photo obtained on July 21, 2022)

The interrogation became adversarial around 4:04 a.m. during a discussion about the results of the polygraph test between Cory Bigsby and the HPD investigator, Talbot later told the public. With the HPD detective and a FBI agent in the room, Cory Bigsby made his first request for an attorney at 4:13 a.m., but the investigators ignored him, court records show.

“Get me a f***ing lawyer,” Cory Bigsby said to the investigators.

Seven minutes later, Cory Bigsby requested an attorney again. Investigators ignored his second request for counsel and continued to question him until around 4:45 a.m. Then, they moved him into another interrogation room and kept him isolated for eight hours, according to court records.

Cory Bigsby would remain at HPD headquarters without an attorney until he was arrested on Feb. 3 and charged with seven counts of felony child neglect. The charges were not connected to Codi’s disappearance.

During the first few days of the investigation, Talbot repeatedly told the public that Cory Bigsby was at police headquarters voluntarily; however, questions about his voluntary status were raised on Feb. 3 when his former attorney Jeffrey Ambrose, who was hired by his family, tried to speak with the father but was denied access to him on the basis that he hadn’t asked for an attorney.

At a Feb. 4 press conference, Talbot told the public that Cory Bigsby never asked for an attorney during the questioning; however, he walked back that statement on Feb. 14, admitting that the father did ask for representation and was denied.

“His desires should have been honored,” Talbot said on Feb. 14. “They weren’t.”

As a result, the HPD detective was removed from the case and put on paid administrative leave, and a new Hampton investigator was appointed to the case. 10 On Your Side investigators confirmed that the first detective is still on leave. It is unclear if the FBI agent who was in the room when Bigsby requested an attorney was reprimanded. 10 On Your Side investigators asked the FBI if that agent faced any consequences as a result of the mishandled interrogation, but the agency declined to comment.

Person of interest

HPD set up a command post outside of Codi’s home and stayed there through Feb. 4. With community help, investigators spent the week searching a one-mile radius around the apartment. 10 On Your Side was at the command post every day, watching the investigation. On Feb. 3, a reporter witnessed evidence technicians search the home, bringing out several sealed bags of evidence.

Although Talbot initially told the public that both of Codi’s parents were considered persons of interest in the case, investigators quickly cleared his mother. On Feb. 3, Talbot publicly named Cory Bigsby as the main person of interest in the case. More than once throughout the week, Talbot expressed concerns about the accuracy of information provided by the father, saying evidence uncovered by investigators didn’t match stories he told police about the last time he’d seen his son.

From the beginning of the investigation, Cory Bigsby’s family has steadfastly defended his reputation.

“I know my brother loved his children,” his sister, Tandaleyia Butler, told Andy Fox in a Feb. 1 interview. “When it came to chastising his children, he was a cream puff. The most he would do is raise his voice. He didn’t put hands on his children.”

As police held and questioned Cory Bigsby, 10 On Your Side’s investigative team dug into the father’s background. We discovered the 43-year-old was charged with domestic assault involving Codi’s mother in Norfolk and Hampton. The charges were set aside because the alleged victim did not cooperate with prosecutors.

10 On Your Side’s investigative team was the first to report that Cory Bigsby was charged with seven counts of felony child neglect on Feb. 3. The charges were related to incidents police believe happened in December and January, before Codi was reported missing. Investigators said that Cory Bigsby admitted to leaving his children home alone on several occasions, with no way to contact him or emergency services. He was arraigned on the charges on Feb. 4.

After an extensive search of Codi’s neighborhood and the surrounding areas, HPD announced it would move into an “investigative phase.” Talbot said that the FBI provided HPD with an “extensive” amount of forensic data that would take time for investigators to thoroughly review.

“We are in the investigative phase. Detectives are filtering through all the evidence gathered so far. Our searches now are based only on new evidence that is uncovered during this process,” said Sgt. Reggie Williams of the HPD.

Billboards featuring Codi’s picture and contact information for the FBI were also placed along major highways in Hampton Roads.

The growing case against Cory Bigsby

From a police interrogation room to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail — Cory Bigsby left his home on Jan. 31 to voluntarily answer investigator’s questions and left police headquarters in handcuffs. He’s been denied bond twice, fired his first attorney, and hired a growing legal team that has unsuccessfully petitioned for him to get a new bail hearing.

While Cory Bigsby’s legal team grows, the case against him has gotten bigger, too. On July 5, 10 On Your Side investigators were the first to discover that a grand jury indicted him on 30 charges — 23 of which were new. None of those charges are related to Codi’s disapperance.

The new charges allege that Cory Bigsby neglected and abused his children on several occasions in the year before Codi was reported missing. He’s also accused of failing to get medical attention for an injured child. If convicted, Cory Bigsby could face up to 162 years in prison.

The abuse and neglect charges will not be overseen by Hampton Circuit Court judges because they recused themselves from the Cory Bigsby’s case on Feb. 17.

The Supreme Court of Virginia appointed Judge James Hawks, a retired judge from Portsmouth, to preside over the case.

Amina Matheny-Willard is currently Cory Bigsby’s lead attorney. The father retained Matheny-Williard to represent him in April after Ambrose, his original attorney, withdrew as counsel citing an ethical issue that compromised his ability to represent Cory Bigsby. He said that the ethical issue was not based on any sort of confession, contrary to social media rumors.

When addressing the growing case against Cory Bigsby, Matheny-Willard called the case a “modern-day lynching.” She issued a statement that said, in part:

Our criminal justice system’s history is littered with cases like this, where the ‘ends justify the means’ to arrogant police and prosecutors. As we see in case after case where corrupt police were able to obtain forced confessions — the state was wrong. The Commonwealth is likewise wrong here, and in this case, Cory Bigsby withstood their torture techniques and refused to confess to a crime he didn’t commit. Today’s indictments carry one clear message: Cory Bigsby had nothing to do with Codi’s disappearance, and the Commowealth’s failure to make a case is an admission to this fact

Amina Matheny-Willard, attorney

At a hearing on July 22, Matheny-Willard said that three other attorneys will now join the defense team. They are: Curtis Brown, Kenneth Singleton and Peter Hanson.

Matheny-Willard isn’t only defending Cory Bigsby — in April, she also filed a cease and desist order against several Hampton officials meant to protect his family. The order alleges Talbot, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and City Attorney Cheran Cordell have made statements that are “reckless, dangerous, and create conditions where the Bigsby family could be targeted for more harassment and potentially violence.”

In May, Matheny-Willard filed an internal affairs complaint on behalf of the Bigsby family against Talbot. It alleges that Talbot made reckless and false statements about the Bigsby family’s lack of cooperation at a public town hall meeting. She alleges those statements provoked verbal life-threatening attacks by community members.

The city responded, stating that Talbot would not retract any of his statements on Codi’s disappearance and denied that the chief put anyone’s life in danger.

What we know about Codi’s family

Through court hearings, 10 On Your Side’s investigative team has learned more about Cory Bigsby’s past. Our team learned that Cory Bigsby has an estranged wife, and they have multiple older children who also live in the Hampton Roads area. His estranged wife is not Codi’s mother, and her children are not the ones who were in the home when the alleged child neglect incidents took place.

We also learned that Cory Bigsby was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2017 after 20 years of service. Court records show that on his last day in the Army, Cory Bigsby was found in violation of AWOL — being away with out leave. He told a Hampton judge that he was not actually AWOL, but was looking for jobs so he could transition out of the military and failed to report his location to his chain of command. Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell cross examined Cory Bigsby and found that he was AWOL for more than three weeks. He told his command he was in Germany, but in reality, he’d traveled back to the United States. Bell confirmed that he received a copy of Cory Bigsy’s military records from police.

While he was in the military in 2011, Cory Bigsby was also reprimanded for stealing Nintendo games from the commissary on Fort Hood. He did not receive any military citation for the theft, court records confirm.

Cory Bigsby told a Hampton judge that he moved back to the Hampton Roads area after he ended his military service in 2017, because he has children in the area. His extended family lives in Washington D.C.

Members of that extended family, including Cory Bigsby’s sister, great aunt, and great uncle, spoke out in support of the father during a press conference on July 14. The family says they have not been able to visit Cory Bigsby or his other three sons, who are currently in foster care.

The family defended Cory Bigsby innocence. They described the relationship between Cory Bigsby and Codi as loving, saying the 4-year-old was like his father’s shadow.

“He’s a good dad. He’s not this villain that you think,” Cory Bigsby’s great aunt, Jeannette Hinnant.

Family also said that Codi was a typical child — one who loved to run and play and always wanted to eat ice cream for breakfast.

The family is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to Codi’s return.

Codi was living full-time with his father when he was reported missing. Little is know about his mother, except that she currently lives in the Washington D.C. area. Through a spokesperson, Codi’s mother released her first and only public statement to 10 On Your Side’s investigative team on Feb. 10, which read:

At this present time, I do not wish to take part in any telephone, television or social media interviews. My reluctance is based on the upcoming trial and the questions asked are questions that will be addressed in court. In addition, I have been advised by legal counsel not to address the public. However, I would like to speak to the support of the community. I sincerely appreciate all the volunteers, rescue workers, police, FBI, news reporters, the community at large, family, friends, and everyone who is showing love and support for Codi. It truly warms my heart. I am praying for the safe return of my baby boy, Codi. I hope the public and the community understand and respect my position during this tragic time.”

Codi’s mother, via a family spokesperson

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