(LOWELL, Mass.) — The search for a missing 3-year-old Massachusetts boy who vanished from his babysitter’s backyard ended Wednesday afternoon with the grim discovery of the child’s body in a pond, authorities said.
The body of the toddler, identified by authorities as Harry Kkonde, was found in a pond at a Christmas tree farm 650 feet from the babysitter’s home in Lowell, about 30 miles northwest of Boston, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said at news conference.
“I want to be clear that we have no idea how Harry came to reach that pond, where he might have been or how long it might have taken him to reach that pond,” Ryan said.
The child was reported missing at about 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Police said a search for the boy was immediately launched.
Lowell Police Acting Superintendent Barry Golner said earlier Wednesday that investigators had found no evidence suggesting foul play in the boy’s disappearance.
About 200 law enforcement officers were involved in the search Wednesday, including K-9 units, divers, drone operators, helicopter crews and officers on horseback and all-terrain vehicles, police said.
“This is obviously every parents’ worst nightmare: a child who disappears for a very short period of time, the excruciating hours of the search and then the recovery of his body,” Ryan said.
The boy was found in roughly 5-feet of water near the edge of the murky pond that divers searched on Tuesday, ABC affiliate station WCVB in Boston reported.
Volunteer searcher Kylie Bouley told WCVB that she was looking for Harry in a cornfield near the pond when the boy’s body was discovered.
“I was looking for him in the cornfield and all I heard is, ‘He’s gone. He’s in the pond. We’re going to take him out. Please get out of the cornfield,'” Bouley said.
Harry was last seen wearing a long-sleeve maroon shirt and gray pants with a white stripe, police said.
“He’s active. He likes going outside. When he’s at home, he goes to the yard and plays. He’s a healthy kid but he can’t speak. He’s trying to learn how to speak, but he can’t talk,” Harry’s father told WCVB in a phone interview prior to his son’s body being discovered.
Upon getting the call of the missing child, officers went to the babysitter’s home in the Pawtucketville section of northwest Lowell and immediately began searching the neighborhood. When they found no sign of the boy, they expanded the search to the nearby Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest and the Merrimack River.
The child’s parents dropped him off at his babysitter’s house at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, police said. At least one neighbor saw the child playing in his babysitter’s backyard around 9:15 a.m., police said.
Lowell police notified the community of the missing boy on Tuesday by using a reverse 911 system to contact residents and asked them to call the police immediately if they believe they had seen the boy or had information about his whereabouts.
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