The body of a 5-year-old missing Pennsylvania boy with autism who disappeared on New Year’s Eve was found Saturday in a canal, authorities said.
Jayliel Vega Batista’s body was recovered from the Lehigh Canal about a quarter of a mile from his parents’ Allentown home, which he wandered away from late Thursday night during a party, Allentown Police Department Chief Keith Morris said during a news conference Saturday night.
Jayliel's tablet had been found in the Lehigh Canal before his body was discovered by divers, according to his father and The Morning Call newspaper. Authorities said his body was found near the tablet, but both probably drifted about 30 yards from where he entered the water.
Morris said foul play is not suspected in the boy’s death, but the incident is still under investigation. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said an autopsy scheduled for Monday would determine when Jayliel entered the water and whether he died before or after entering the canal.
“It's a sad day for our city,” Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. “Please, please continue to pray for the family and support them.”
Jayliel was last seen running near the home on Thursday, the Allentown Police Department said. The 5-year-old was not wearing shoes, socks or a coat at the time, police said.
Eleven search and rescue organizations were involved in the search for the boy, which included 20 canines and three helicopters.
Jayliel's father told NBC News that he doesn't know why his son would venture toward the canal and the 5-year-old likely wasn't familiar with the dangers of water.