Stanley Guidroz, a former Fort Lewis soldier who returned to his native Louisiana in 1986, is being held on investigation of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife in March. Nearly three decades after Guidroz's 2-1/2-year-old son disappeared, Tacoma detectives on Tuesday searched unsuccessfully for the child's remains along Ruston Way, based on...

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Tacoma police detectives spent Tuesday digging in an open area along the city’s waterfront for the remains of Wallace Guidroz, a toddler who disappeared 28 years ago.

They were tipped to the location by Wallace’s father, Stanley Guidroz, a former Fife resident who is now in a Louisiana jail accused of fatally stabbing his wife in March, said Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum.

“He’s always been somebody we haven’t been able to eliminate from being involved,” Fulghum said of Guidroz, now 54, who reported his 2 ½-year-old son missing Jan. 10, 1983. “He was the last one to see the kid alive and be with the child.”

Guidroz’s arrest in Louisiana “is how we ended up at the dig site,” Fulghum said, explaining that Tacoma detectives traveled to Terrebonne Parish, La., to interview Guidroz, who is being held on $1 million bail, accused of second-degree murder.

Something Guidroz told a detective “led him to believe this is where the child’s remains could be found” along the western part of Ruston Way, Fulghum said.

Fulghum said he didn’t know exactly what information the elder Guidroz had provided.

No remains were found, and the search was called off around 3:30 p.m., Fulghum said. Detectives did not intend to return to the site Wednesday but “will evaluate what they’ve got and decide on their next course of action,” he said.

In March, the Houma, La., Courier reported that Guidroz allegedly stabbed his second wife, Peppettra Guidroz, multiple times during an argument in a car behind a Burger King restaurant. Guidroz drove around aimlessly for seven hours with his wife’s body on the back seat before walking into a police station in Zachary, La., 100 miles from Houma, and turning himself in, the newspaper reported. The couple had been married nearly eight years.

In 2007, Tacoma police Detective Gene Miller, assigned to investigate homicides and assaults, began reviewing cold cases, including Wallace’s disappearance, Fulghum said. Miller discovered Guidroz had never been eliminated as a possible suspect.

Guidroz’s arrest on suspicion of murder prompted Miller to go to Louisiana to talk to him about his son’s disappearance, Fulghum said.

According to a Seattle Times account of the boy’s disappearance, Guidroz, a Louisiana native and a former Fort Lewis soldier, told police he had taken his young son fishing at the boat house in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, and then the two went to the park’s duck pond. Wallace ran to play with a blond girl about his age, and Guidroz struck up a conversation with a man he presumed was the girl’s father.

The other man offered Guidroz a beer from his backpack and the two men walked the park’s trails for about 20 minutes, leaving the children with a woman Guidroz thought was the girl’s mother. When the men returned, the woman and kids were gone. The two men split up, but the man then disappeared, according to Guidroz’s account.

He said he searched for his son for two hours before calling police.

An extensive search involving more than 130 volunteers, helicopter crews, tracking dogs and divers failed to turn up any clues to the boy’s whereabouts. The duck pond was drained, but there was no sign of Wallace.

Guidroz, who was unemployed at the time, helped police create sketches of the mystery couple. He also underwent hypnosis for several hours “and gave police much better descriptions than he had earlier from memory,” The Times reported Jan. 24, 1983.

Wallace’s mother, Chom Guidroz, was Korean and met her husband during his 1978-1979 Army tour in South Korea. She was working at a sauna when her son disappeared.

The couple divorced two years later, according to Tacoma police. Guidroz returned to Louisiana in 1986, and Chom Guidroz moved to Illinois. She was apparently living in Oak Lawn, Ill., about 17 miles southwest of Chicago, at the time of her death in 1995 at age 37, public records show.

“I don’t know if she ever had any ideas” about the circumstances surrounding Wallace’s disappearance, Fulghum said of Chom Guidroz. “Unfortunately, she died before she could find out” what happened to her child, he said.

Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com