D.C. police said July 8 they are baffled about the circumstances surrounding the death of a 7-year-old autistic boy whose body was found just a few yards from where he was lasted spotted July 7.
The body of Michael Kingsbury, 7, was found in an abandoned vehicle in an alley behind his home 32 hours after he was last seen wearing only a pull-up diaper.
Police officials said they want to know how teams of searchers missed the old car parked in the alley behind his house. They also want to know the sequence of events linking the last known siting in his home and the grisly discovery in the car.more than a day later.
Katrina Kingsbury, his mother, said he went missing just after 9:47 a.m. at the family home in the 1700 block of West Virginia Ave. N.E.
"My daughter came in the room and told me that Michael dropped a bowl or something out the window and went outside to get it," said Kingsbury in a recent interview with the AFRO. "I threw on my robe and ran outside."
She said by the time she got outside Michael was gone.
This is not the first time Michael has wandered away from home. Kingsbury told the AFRO. Michael wandered away a few years ago and she later learned he was at a neighbor’s house.
Kingsbury said her son was non-verbal and unable to communicate well. She has two other children.
"He doesn't know his address, but he has a photographic memory," said Kingsbury.
Michael, who is autistic, went missing about 9:30 a.m. July 6, touching off an extensive search involving police and residents. His body was found about 6 p.m. July 8 in the car, which was parked in an alley just two apartment buildings away from where he lived.
Acquaintances said his mother had been understandably devastated by the news. As loved ones rallied around her July 8, police investigators combed the car where his body was found. Officers refused to answer questions as they worked behind a yellow tape barricade. A lone police officer guarded the area late into the night.
"This is a sad day for the whole community," said Commissioner Petagay Lewis, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Michael's neighborhood near Gallaudet University.
After spending hours with grief counselors, Michael’s mother spoke to the media late on July 8 near her home.
“I came out to thank everybody in the community for coming out and helping to find my child,” said Kingsbury while fighting back tears.
Her father, Billy Byers, Michael's grandfather, stood next to her and comforted her while she spoke.
“She needs her space right now and she just wants to thank all of you,” said Byers as he consoled his daughter. “We just want to wake up right now, but unfortunately, we’re already awake.”
Michael was last seen wearing a diaper. The description on the flyers stated that he was approximately 4’3” tall, approximately 60 pounds, with dreadlocks in his hair and a light complexion.
Several neighbors and friends milled about the street until after 11 p.m. on July 8. A makeshift memorial had been erected in the alley with a stuffed animal and lit candles.
Michael was described as a happy, joyful, intelligent child by his mother. She said her son, who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, was an amazing artist and loved to swim in the pool.
Local law enforcement agencies, missing child experts and local residents had been vigilantly canvassing the neighborhood where Michael was last seen.
Police officials said they conducted a door-to-door search in the surrounding Gallaudet and Trinidad neighborhoods hoping for leads to the missing boy's whereabouts. Officials said they were also investigating known sex offenders in the area.
Kingsbury had also reached out to people in the district through social media asking for the safe return of her son. She posted several photos of Michael on her Facebook page along with her phone number and issued a plea for help.
Robert Lowery Jr., senior executive director of the missing children division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said many times what the child is interested in leads to death.
"Some special needs children are attracted to water and are known to strip out of their clothes and drown in area pools," said Lowery. "Others are attracted to big trucks and cars and have wandered onto roadways and highways."