Updated Fri., Dec. 26, 12:20 p.m. EST: The body of Jayden Morrison, the 4-year-old autistic boy who went missing Christmas Eve after his family drove from New York to visit with his grandmother in South Carolina, has been found in a pond in Horry County, according to police officials who spoke with Newsday.
Emergency workers and some 150 volunteers had been searching for the boy, who police believe wandered out of an open front door shortly after his family arrived in South Carolina.
Coroner Robert Edge told media that Jayden’s body was found 11 a.m. Friday in a retention pond not far from his grandparent’s home.
A Christmas trip to South Carolina for one New York family has turned into a nightmare, with 4-year-old Jayden Morrison, who is autistic, going missing on Christmas Eve.
According to the New York Daily News, it is believed that Jayden may have slipped out the front door of his grandmother’s house around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Police noted that the family had just arrived at the Little River house a few hours before the boy went missing. Police also told the Daily News that the grandmother was watching Jayden while his mother went to a local Wal-Mart to do some Christmas shopping. Police told reporters that they have no reason to believe that the child was abducted and suspect that when his grandmother wasn’t looking, Jayden walked out the open front door.
Jayden, who was last seen wearing pajamas, is nonverbal because of his autism, according to reports, and wouldn’t respond if someone called his name. Jayden’s mother, Tabatha Morrison, told reporters that she is worried because all the houses in her mother’s neighborhood look the same, making it difficult for Jayden to find his way back to his grandmother’s house.
“At home, he would be able to point out his house,” she told the Sun News. "He’s never done anything like this before. He’s 4 years old. He’s never been out of my eyesight.”
Morrison told the newspaper that once she arrived in South Carolina, she dropped her son off at her parent’s house and left to do Christmas shopping because the gifts wouldn’t have fit in the car.
“Mom called me at the store and said she couldn’t find him,” Morrison told the Sun.
Morrison rushed back to her mother’s home to find emergency workers already there. Morrison searched the neighborhood but did not found her son.
“All the houses look the same,” she told the Sun.
The Daily News notes that some 100 emergency workers combed the rural neighborhood on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day hoping to find Jayden, but wet weather conditions made the searches difficult. “Dive crews checked nearby detention ponds, but found no sign of Jayden,” the Daily News reports.