Authorities have launched an investigation after a 3-year-old boy missing from a Massachusetts home was found dead Wednesday in 5 feet of water.
According to reports, Harry Kkonde disappeared Tuesday morning from his babysitter’s home in Lowell, a city outside of Boston, leading to a massive search for the toddler. His body was discovered in a nearby pond at Ronald Perron’s farm Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t cry too much, but boy, it really was a shock,” Perron said. “I never thought that they were going to find this kid in my pond.”
More than 700 people in Lowell are expected to attend a candlelight vigil for Harry on Friday, according to a Facebook post. Dozens had already gathered by Wednesday night to memorialize the young child with balloons and flowers. According to reports, family members described the boy from a Ugandan immigrant family as humble and quiet. News of his disappearance spurred a neighborhood effort to bring him home.
“We had the hope that he was going to come home alive,” said family friend Maureen Kalemba. “It was so devastating to know that Harry just ended in that pond.”
Authorities said Harry was dropped off at the babysitter’s home around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. It was Harry’s fifth time with the sitter.
According to reports, a neighbor reportedly saw him playing in the yard around 9:15 a.m. The babysitter called 911 to report Harry missing at 9:30 a.m. The babysitter was watching one other child at the time, authorities said.
“We have a very narrow window of when he went missing,” said Carlisle Police Chief John Fisher, the incident commander for the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Regional Response Team.
Police started the search at the house and continued it in all directions Wednesday into a nearby state forest.
About 200 people helped comb the area. Neighbors were asked to check their surveillance video, doorbell cameras, property and cars, reports show. About 180 officers from various police departments searched the neighborhood Tuesday. Fisher said that the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team offered aid.
Authorities said they searched the pond on Tuesday but believe Harry was still “on the move.” Two police dogs picked up the boy’s scent in the same direction towards the woods behind the house. Investigators do not suspect foul play, according to reports.
“We feel empty,” Kalemba said. “We don’t have any other words to express how we feel.”
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said investigators are now focused on “finding out what happened” to Harry.
“Even though the pond is located on a straight line from the house, we don’t know where he went, or where he may have traveled, or what time he might arrived back by that pond there,” she said. “We just don’t know that.”