LOWELL - Harry Kkonde, a missing 3-year-old Lowell boy, was found dead in shallow water a day after he was reported missing from his babysitter's home and a massive search was launched.
Harry's body was discovered Wednesday afternoon, more than a day after he went missing from the house on Freda Lane in the Pawtucketville section of the city.
He was found by a State Police dive team in a pond at Ronald Perron's farm, not far from the home in Lowell. "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."
The pond had been searched Tuesday and Harry was not located. A day later, police were re-checking areas because the boy was believed to be on the move.
Harry was wearing the clothes he was last seen in, and found in about five feet of water. There were no signs of trauma on his body.
"This is obviously every parent's worst nightmare," Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said on Wednesday.
The boy's parents mourned their loss with other Ugandan immigrants Wednesday night. "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."
Dozens of people gathered near the farm Wednesday night, leaving balloons and flowers. A vigil is being planned for Thursday night.
Family members describe Harry as a humble, quiet boy who often stuck close to his mother's side. They say they will ask the community to help them with his burial costs, just like they helped with the search to find him.
"We feel empty," Kalemba said. "We don't have any other words to express how we feel."
Investigators said Harry was dropped off at the babysitter's home Tuesday morning. A neighbor saw him playing in the yard around 9:15 a.m. About 15 minutes later, the babysitter called 911 to report Harry was missing.
"We have a very narrow window of when he went missing," Carlisle Police Chief John Fisher, the incident commander for the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Regional Response Team, told reporters Wednesday morning.
Fisher said this was Harry's fifth visit with the babysitter and that it appears he walked out the door on his own. The babysitter was also watching one other child at the time, Fisher said.
Two different police dogs picked up Harry's scent, both heading in the same direction towards the woods behind the house.
Police do not suspect foul play and were treating it as a search for a lost child. Fisher said they started the search at the home and expanded it out in all directions Wednesday into a nearby state forest and Tyngsboro. About 200 people were involved and Fisher added that the FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team offered to help as well.
About 180 officers from several police departments searched the entire area all day Tuesday. People who live in the neighborhood were asked to check their surveillance video, doorbell cameras, property and cars.
Ryan said her department will now shift its focus from finding Harry to finding out what happened.
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