NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - A Long Island man and the son he apparently abducted on Tuesday were found dead in a vehicle in Virginia on Wednesday, Suffolk County Police said.
Police officials are waiting for confirmation that the bodies are that of Jovani Ligurgo, 2, and his father, John Ligurgo III, but they match their descriptions.
They were found inside a vehicle with New York license plate GAV4699 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, between Charlottesville and Roanoke. That plate matches Ligurgo's Jeep Grand Cherokee, police said.
Cops had been searching for the child and his father after Ligurgo failed to return the boy to his mother in Smithtown on Tuesday.
At around the same time, firefighters responded to a call about a fire at Ligurgo's home. Two beds in one room were on fire. Firefighters quickly put out the fire. No one was inside.
Suffolk Police asked New York State Police to issue an Amber Alert, but state troopers said they did not provide enough information to meet the criteria for one.
Amber Alerts are issued only when an abducted child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death, state police said. Suffolk cops said Ligurgo may have been armed with a hunting rifle, but that they had no indication that he would harm his son.
Cameras later recorded Ligurgo's Jeep crossing the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.
On Thursday the Suffolk County Police Department and the New York State Police issued a joint statement on the Amber Alert situation:
The Suffolk County Police Department and the New York State Police are extremely saddened by the death of two-year old Jovani Ligurgo. We express our deepest sympathies to his family.
Throughout this investigation, the Suffolk County Police Department worked quickly and diligently to seek the safe return of Jovani. This includes reaching out to multiple law enforcement partners, including the New York State Police. While circumstances did not trigger an AMBER Alert based on the established criteria, the investigation did not stop there. Both agencies continued to investigate throughout the night and morning to determine the whereabouts of both individuals. These efforts included accessing the resources of the New York State Intelligence Center, and working together with law enforcement agencies throughout the region, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the NYPD. The priority of all involved was to locate the child and father, and ensure their safe return.
As is standard procedure, both agencies will review the steps and guidelines ensure that best practices were followed. The Suffolk County Police Department and the New York State Police have worked closely on countless cases, and remain committed to continuing our close partnership.
We want to reassure the public that every aspect of this investigation will be thoroughly reviewed. Our number one priority is to provide for the safety and security of our residents that we serve.