The boy shares the same facial features, scars and speech impediment as Tristen "Buddy" Myers, Sampson County (N.C.) Sheriff's Sgt. Darold Cox said. DNA samples were taken from him Monday. The boy had been taken into state custody in Illinois after the man caring for him raised suspicions with workers at a hospital.
Buddy hasn't been seen since he wandered away from his aunt's home on Oct. 5, 2000, with his two dogs. The two dogs eventually returned home, but searchers didn't find the boy.
Investigators took a DNA sample from Buddy's mother, Raven, last week and performed a match test Monday, Illinois Department of Child and Family Services spokeswoman Jill Manuel said. It will take four to six weeks to receive the results.
CBS News reports his mother is preparing for a homecoming.
"I'm really happy and I'm really excited about it," Raven said.
Buddy's aunt, Donna Myers, said local investigators asked her to come to the sheriff's office in Clinton, N.C., on April 1 to look at a picture of the boy. She and her husband had been caring for the boy, who had been living with various relatives since he was born to a teenage mother, at the time he disappeared.
Donna Myers, whose house is decorated with yellow ribbons, told the Fayetteville Observer that she was told the man called the boy Eli Quick.
"There are so many things that point to it being him that we are just praying that it is," she said. "If it's not him, he's got a twin."
The boy's cousins in Sampson County, N.C., said Tuesday in a televised interview that they hoped that DNA testing could be hurried.
"It looks like it could be him," said Jamie Richmond, adding that he was told that X-rays showed the boy had the same breaks in his leg as Tristen, who was injured in a car accident less than a year before he disappeared.
The boy had been with a man who was taken into custody after he brought the child to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston and asked doctors to do something about his "aggressive behavior," Manuel said.
The hospital staff became suspicious and called police, who discovered the man was wanted for shoplifting. The man was taken into custody at the time on the shoplifting warrant but Evanston police wouldn't comment Monday on the status of his case.
Manuel said she called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after the boy could not explain some "holes" in his background. The center compared the boy's profile to its database and contacted police in North Carolina.
The boy has been turned over to social workers in Chicago, Manuel said.
Sampson County Sheriff's Office Lt. Ricky Mattocks said local investigators hesitated before releasing information about the case.
"We get a bunch of leads every day," he said. "Stuff comes in all the time and we waited until we were sure."