LAKELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the body of a missing 6-year-old Lakeland boy with special needs was found in a retention pond, just 50 feet from the back door of his home.
Judd said it appears Adam Roach walked out of the front door of his home, then around to the back, and into the pond.
Judd said there were four ponds on the apartment complex's property and all were searched with special equipment and assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"FWC and their dive team, along with the Sheriff's Office dive team, searched diligently," he said, "and unfortunately, we did not find him alive."
Previously, Sheriff Judd asked residents in a 3-mile radius of Carlton Arms of South Lakeland Apartments to search their back yards, pools, and land to make sure the boy was not hiding or trapped somewhere near from where he went missing.
Judd said the autistic boy, who was hard of hearing, non-verbal and had the mental capacity of an 18-month-old child, was reported missing around 4 p.m., having disappeared about 30 minutes prior to his department being notified.
"The family actually heard the door open and close and thought is was one of their other children, so it was just a matter of minutes. Then, they scrambled outside," said Judd. "He's wandered before and he has been found very quickly."
Deputies had earlier combed the area along Shepherd Road, using air surveillance and K-9 teams. Then, at a second news conference just after 11 p.m. Sheriff Judd announced they had located Roach.
"This is being investigated as a death investigation by our homicide unit," he said. "At this time, we found Adam, but certainly not the way we wanted to."