Crews searching for a missing 6-year-old boy in Colorado found a child’s body under the ice of a frozen pond, authorities said Tuesday.
Officials have not yet positively identified the body as that of David Puckett, 6, who is believed to have wandered away from his home and has been missing for days, according to the Aurora Police Department.
But the city’s police chief told reporters Tuesday that crews did find “the body of what appears to be a child inside the pond, underneath the ice.”
“At this time we are not able to give a definitive identification on that individual,” Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said. “I will say, however, that because of this information, because of our suspicion, I had the unfortunate experience of having to inform David’s family of what we found.”
Metz said that the authorities also told Puckett’s family that it would take some time before a positive identification could be made. The pond where the body was discovered, and the area around it, was being treated as a crime scene, he said, though Metz could not yet say whether there were signs of foul play or whether this was simply a horrible accident.
“That’s a really good question, but that’s why we’re going to treat it as a crime scene and that’s why we’re going to process it and make sure that we do everything humanly possible to get a good idea of what occurred,” he said.
David Puckett went missing on New Year’s Eve, according to Aurora, Colorado, police. Authorities were called to his home that evening, though his family had searched for the child for about an hour before contacting police.
The boy was thought to have strayed from his home; he had “wandered from his home in the recent past, and was located by citizens,” an Aurora police blog post on the case stated. David was only wearing a light jacket when he went missing, authorities said.
David’s mother on Sunday issued a tearful plea at a press conference, describing her son as friendly and energetic, and asking for members of the public to help in the search.
“If you guys can, please help me find him. If you see him, please call the police immediately,” she said. “If, by any chance, you picked him up last night because it was New Year’s Eve and thought it would just be safe for him to pick him up, please just call. Please bring my baby home.”
More than 100 members of the law enforcement community – including personnel from the FBI, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – were involved in the search for David, according to police. Additionally, more than 200 citizens were part of the effort.
Crews also used bloodhound dogs, one of whom alerted authorities to the pond. The bloodhound “expressed interest” in the pond, which is located in a park, police said in a blog post. A fire-rescue team was deployed, and that’s when they located the child’s body.
Police said in the post that the area has been heavily searched before, and there was “never any evidence someone fell into the pond or through the ice.”
“A lot of folks went around the pond,” Metz said. “There was no indication that there had been breakage of the ice. In fact even the family members said that they had gone around and didn’t see anything. But again, when the dog hinted around there, the divers went in.”
Because the body has not yet been positively identified, search efforts still continued, Aurora police said.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Sarah Larimer
Photo courtesy of the Aurora Police Department