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Missing Missouri toddler found dead

AFFTON, Mo. - A small body found Tuesday near a St. Louis County cemetery is that of a 1-year-old boy reported missing hours earlier from his home, police said.

But the medical examiner who confirmed the body as that of Tyler Dasher did not immediately determine the cause of death, county police spokesman Rick Eckhard said. Police did not plan to release any more information until Wednesday morning.

Tyler was reported missing around 11 a.m. Tuesday from the Affton home he shared with his mother, 20-year-old Shelby Dasher, and his grandmother. Shelby Dasher told police she had put Tyler to bed after midnight, then overslept and discovered him gone from his crib when she awoke.

Eckhard said in a written statement that police did not yet have a motive "for the abduction or apparent homicide."

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said at a news conference earlier Tuesday that people walking a dog found the body around 3:30 p.m. about a mile from the home.

No one has been arrested. Tyler's mother and father, who live separately, are both cooperating with police, Fitch said.

"At this point there are no suspects. Nor has anyone been eliminated as a suspect," Fitch said.

A long, wide area near the cemetery was cordoned off with yellow police tape. Police dogs sniffed the ground while officers placed barricades around the area where the small body was found. A small cluster of young adults cried and hugged as they watched from the cemetery. It wasn't clear if they were relatives of Tyler, and they declined interview requests.

The body was within about 100 feet of a busy road.

"It says to me it's a pretty sick person," Fitch said. "Anybody that would take a child and leave a child in a wooded area in that condition needs to be dealt with severely by the criminal justice system."

Fitch declined to discuss the condition of the body.

Police immediately suspected foul play because it was unlikely a 13-month-old could get himself out of his crib and wander from his home.

Meanwhile, police received reports of a man in a dark hoody carrying a small child in a blanket on Tuesday along a wooded area not far from the family home.

Fitch said officers were searching for that man for questioning.

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