The sprawling search for a three-year-old boy who went missing from his babysitter’s house Tuesday has ended in tragedy – with officers calling it off nearly 30 hours later after discovering the child’s dead body in a pond near the sitter’s home.
The child, who police have only identified as Harry K., was reported missing at around 9:30am Tuesday. He was last seen by a neighbor playing in the front yard of the home in Lowell, Massachusetts, at 9:15am.
The boy was found in five feet of water at a farm on nearby Varnum Avenue, police said Wednesday – an area close to the babysitter’s home that had been part of the search since its early stages.
Police said Harry was dropped off by his parents at the residence, located on 37 Freda Lane, at around 7am. He was one of two children being watched by the babysitter at the time, police said.
Investigators made the grim discovery just before 2pm – roughly 29 hours after the child was last seen.
It also came shortly after local police defended their decision not to issue an Amber Alert following Harry’s disappearance, due to their insistence that there was ‘no reason to believe’ that foul play played a part in the tot’s disappearance.
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The child, pictured here celebrating his third birthday, who police have only identified as Harry K., was reported missing from the home, situated in Lowell, at around 9:30am Tuesday
The boy was found in five feet of water just after 1 pm Wednesday at Rollie’s Tree Farm, a wooded property near the babysitter’s house
The sprawling search for a three-year-old was called off after more than 24 hours Wednesday, after cops found the child’s body. Cops were led to the boy by two police dogs who caught the kid’s scent
Officers said at a presser held near the site at 3:30pm that they believed Harry walked out the door to the wooded area on his own, and that foul play did not play a part in his disappearance.
Police started the search at the home Tuesday, after receiving a 911 call from the unnamed babysitter.
After failing to find the child after nearly 12 hours of searching, police panned out the search early Wednesday into the woods, part of Lowell-Dracut State Forest.
Police also searched the neighboring town of Tyngsboro.
Two police dogs picked up the boy’s scent in a section of the woods behind the house in the early afternoon, cops said, and eventually led officers to the boy’s body, at Rollie’s Tree Farm, a wooded property that abuts Freda Lane.
Police said it was likely the tot ventured through the neighboring woods to the farm.
A cause of death has not yet been given.
Pictured is the Lowell home of the babysitter who lost track of the child. The Lowell-Dracut State Forest, where the boy’s body was found, can be seen in the background
The search saw a coalition of more than 200 officers from several police department scour the Massachusetts suburbs for a sign of the child, focusing on areas they had already checked and areas they want to check again.
‘We have every asset we need to check every square inch of that area and we’re going to continue to go out as long ad we can,’ Chief John Fisher.
Eventually, thanks to the Massachusetts State Police’s K-9 unit, they were led back to where they started the search, coming across the boy in an area police said was steps away from the house.
Police said that the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team offered to help as well.
Following the discovery, many questioned the local Lowell Police Department’s decision not to issue an Amber Alert after Harry was reported missing.
‘The reason there’s no Amber alert is there’s no reason to believe there’s a crime,’ Fisher asserted Tuesday.
Speaking with local outlet WMUR 9 Tuesday, the boy’s father seemed to agree with the chief’s assessment.
‘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,’ he told the outlet.
The search saw a coalition of more than 200 officers from several police department scour the Massachusetts suburbs for a sign of the child, using a grid pattern to cover more ground
The Dracut Police, Tyngsborough Police, UMass Lowell Police and two units from the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council participated in the search, which spanned two towns and nearly 30 hours
Amber Alerts are typically not issued unless there is reasonable belief that the child has been abducted. Cops said there was evidence that Harry got out of the house by himself, but did not detail what that evidence was.
Meanwhile, a WBZ reporter who witnessed the search Wednesday morning said she she saw officers checking the trunks of every car on Freda Lane.
After discovering the child’s body, officers set up yellow police tape around the farm and the pond.
Police Chief Fisher defended his department’s decision to not issue an Amber Alert due to supposed evidence that the tot had wandered out by himself. Amber Alerts are generally not issued unless there is reason to believe the missing was abducted
Before Harry’s body was discovered, a reporter said she she saw officers checking the trunks of every car on Freda Lane (pictured)
One witness, a volunteer helping with the search, recalled how one officer made the grim discovery.
‘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,”‘ volunteer Kylie Vouley told WCVB.