Body of Missing 5-Year-Old Pennsylvania Boy With Autism, Jayliel Vega Batista, Found

By Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News
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.”

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