The story of a missing boy takes a tragic turn as police report the child’s body was found early Thursday morning.
More than a thousand people searched the Webb City area Wednesday night for Freddie Williams, 14, but despite their best efforts, he was found Thursday at about 8 a.m. in a private pond off of Madison, just north of Webb City High School.
Authorities say he apparently died from drowning.
Thursday afternoon the family released the following statement through their church:
The Williams family would like to thank the community and law enforcement who helped in the searched for their son.
They would also ask for continued privacy during this time.
This Sunday they invite the community to Webb City High School stadium parking lot for candlelight service at 7pm for Freddie.
Any donations for funeral services can be made at candle light service or at the Webb City courthouse.
An account has also been set up at Southwest Missouri Bank on Range Line Road. To make a donation tell the bank it is for the family of Freddie Williams.
Police say Williams had autism and was last seen wandering away from his home in the 1000 block of Mineral at about 5 p.m. on Thursday. Police say Williams may have had a dog with him, but the dog has yet to be located.
Police say they did search the area where he was eventually found on Wednesday evening without any trace of the child. They say dogs and horses were used to search the area, including the location where he was found, on two separate occasions.
“We had a report that he was there by the high school,” says Webb City Police Chief Carl Francis. “There were teams that were assigned to that area. There were individual citizens that searched that area. It’s very frustrating that he was not located before he got to the water.”
“It was a very thorourogh search,” says neighbor David Goucher. “I’d say 15 to 20 minutes after I found out that he was missing there was – I’ve never seen that many cars go up and down my street here.”
Neighbors, family and friends gathered at the family’s home on Thursday to pay their respects.
Police say an autopsy will take place sometime this weekend, but no foul play is suspected.
Police say it was not the first time the boy had gone missing and that they were told he did not know how to swim.
Police say the incident is frustrating and they wished it had ended another way.