The body of a 3-year-old Massachusetts boy who was the subject of a massive search effort has been recovered, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced Wednesday.
The body of the toddler who disappeared from his babysitter’s house in Lowell, Massachusetts, Tuesday morning was found dead in a pond not far from where he was last seen, authorities said Wednesday.
A massive search effort involving at least 200 first responders had scoured the area around Freda Lane in Lowell’s Pawtucketville neighborhood, where the 3-year-old boy, identified as Harry, was last seen at 9:15 a.m.
On Tuesday afternoon, search teams appeared to focus on a Christmas tree farm called Rollie’s Farm, putting up caution tape in the area.
The pond where Harry’s body was found about 1:10 p.m. Wednesday in about 5 feet of water is next to the farm, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said. The pond is about 650 feet from the home Harry disappeared from.
“Our thoughts and hearts are with the family who lost this child,” Ryan said, sentiments echoed by the Lowell police chief and other search leaders.
The pond had been searched about 11 a.m. Tuesday, but Harry’s body wasn’t found then, Ryan said. She said it wasn’t clear if Harry had been in the pond at the time it was searched; he was wearing the clothes he was last seen in, gray pants with white stripe and a long-sleeved maroon shirt, and there were no signs of external trauma.
“We have no idea how Harry came to reach that pond,” Ryan said, reiterating later that the path the boy took to the pond remains unclear.
The search-and-rescue effort covered nearly 5 square miles, including wooded areas, according to Ryan. Police dove into the water, escorted K-9s, rode on horseback and ATVs and flew drones in an effort to find the boy.
Police, fire officials and other rescue workers had combed the area overnight and drained numerous pools, and a more extensive search resumed Wednesday morning. Officials had said that they were not only retracing their steps but also expanding the breadth of the search, which had remained within about a one-mile radius of the home the day prior.
“We’re checking every spot in that neighborhood from a breadbox on up,” Carlisle Police Chief John Fisher said earlier in the day. “A 3-year-old of average mobility, fortunately or unfortunately, can get pretty far. So today we’re going out even further than we might yesterday.”
Harry — his last name hasn’t been identified — was last seen by a neighbor playing in the babysitter’s backyard 15 minutes before police were called to report him missing, authorities said. There were no indications of foul play.
Surveillance video showed that the babysitter immediately started to look for Harry, enlisted the help of neighbors and called police “really quickly,” officials have said.
Authorities thanked neighbors for offering a great deal of help as officials scoured the area on Tuesday, when the weather was in the 80s.
“Every parent who has ever had a toddler is in terror of that toddler wandering off,” Ryan said, crediting that fear for the community’s help.