A 13-year-old boy spent more than 9 hours locked inside the stairwell of an East Germantown middle school before being released early today, police said.

The family of David Fields, 13, says his screams led them to him after a night of searching, including earlier stops at the Roosevelt Middle School, 430 E. Washington Lane.

His mother, Angela Johnson, says janitorial staff at the school would not let them in to look for the boy and told them they had not seen nor heard him.

The seventh grader reportedly told his mother that the janitorial staff probably did not hear him because their music was so loud.

David's family reported him missing after he did come home from school after its 3 p.m. dismissal.

Police said relatives who returned to the school for a second time heard the boy's screams about 12:10 a.m. and he was let out by 12:30 a.m.

"He was really cold and hungry," Johnson said.

Fernando Gallard, a School District spokesman, said the stairwell where David was found is an emergency exit tower and should not be used to leave school.

Still, he said, at least the bottom door of the tower should have been open and not locked until a final nighttime inspection by staff.

"We are reviewing to see if proper procedures were followed," he said.

He said the school officials would meet with the family and offer counseling to the boy if he needs it.