Tempe, Ariz. -- Tammi and Jack Smith say they were looking out for the best interest of Gabriel Johnson when they started spending time with him and his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, nearly a month ago.
"We had a complete bond with him," said Tammi Peter-Smith.
The Smiths told CBS5 they are confident little Gabriel is alive. They were in contact with Elizabeth Johnson up until she was arrested, and they could hear Gabriel through the phone in the background.
"I heard the baby babble... I heard the baby cry, " Smith said.
They even received text messaged disputing the threats Elizabeth made about hurting Gabriel.
"Immediately after she sent him the text that said she killed the baby, she sent us a text saying that she did that to get back at the father and that the baby was fine," said Jack Smith.
The Smiths spent significant time getting to know Gabriel and have several pictures with the boy in their home, playing with their own four-year-old daughter.
They say they didn't involve the father, Logan McQueary in the adoption procedures because Elizabeth Johnson told them he was abusive.
"As soon as she got away from Logan and we had the baby, and he was not a part of her life, all of the sudden she had a bright cheery attitude about herself," said Tammi Smith.
But at an emotional press conference Monday, McQueary told CBS5 that after Gabriel disappeared, the Smiths tried to strong-arm him into giving up his child.
"When Gabriel disappeared, they said to me basically if you really care about your son and you want him back and you want Elizabeth to bring him back, than you'll sign the paperwork and she'll bring him back," said Logan McQueary.
The Smiths said they were only passing along the messages they were getting from Elizabeth. They also say they are cooperating fully with the investigation and no longer believe the adoption is possible.
"Now the father is so deeply into this that his ego would never allow him to sign papers," said Smith
But they still may have a role to play. The Smiths believe Elizabeth Johnson will tell them Gabriel's location Tuesday.
"She wants to talk to me tomorrow at 2 o'clock
to see if I will help her with attorneys to gain custody of Gabriel. If she hurt the baby, I don't think she would be trying to get custody," Tammi Smith said.