The body discovered in a South Carolina pond is an autistic White Plains child who went missing Christmas Eve, local reports said.
Horry County Coroner confirmed the drowned body found in a pond Friday morning is 4-year-old Jayden Morrison, according to WMBF-TV.
The nonverbal child vanished from his grandmother’s Little River home hours after the family arrived in South Carolina from New York Wednesday for the holidays.
His mother had gone Christmas shopping for his presents when he disappeared during a brief lapse of supervision.
“After a telephone call … I couldn’t find Jayden,” his grandmother, Carolyn Sumpter, told the Sun News.
She had been watching Jayden and his siblings when she found the front door open. Jayden likely walked out after watching cartoons on the couch, she said.
She immediately alerted neighbors and called 911 to report her missing grandson.
The pond where investigators found Jayden’s body is located is only 10 houses down from his grandmother’s home in the rural neighborhood north of Myrtle Beach.
Dive crews had searched nearby retention ponds Wednesday and Thursday, but found no sign of Jayden. That gave his parents, Andre and Tabatha Morrison, hope that he was alive, but fear as well that something sinister happened.
Horry County police spokesman Raul Denis said Thursday there was no sign Jayden had been abducted.
His body surfaced after lowering a pond’s water levels, authorities said at a press conference Friday.
The discovery follows an intensive search by police and fire agencies and more than 100 volunteers searching a large perimeter around the Little River neighborhood near the South Carolina coast. Helicopters, drones combed the area from above while volunteers blasting children’s music hoped to coax Jayden out of hiding Thursday, not realizing how close he had been.
Because of Jayden’s autism, the 4-year-old may have not responded to his name when called, authorities initially said.
The search sparked Wednesday night coincided with wet weather in the low 50s throughout the region.