WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Family and friends gathered in White Plains today to say their final good byes to 4-year-old Jayden Morrison. The boy went missing in South Carolina on Christmas Eve and his body was later found in a nearby pond. According to Jayden's mother, he was diagnosed with autism and was nonverbal.
In a moving eulogy at the Calvary Baptist Church, Rev. Erwin Trollinger said, "I refuse to use the word death. It is a transition. And in the place Jayden is transitioning to, who knows how many lives he will change.
"Where he is at he will no longer have trouble speaking or playing. He will no longer need Special Ed, he'll have Super Ed."
In a statement released last week, Autism Speaks President Liz Feld said, "we are deeply saddened by the death of Jayden and our hearts go out to his loved ones. The dangers of wandering are a reality for our community every day, and the outcomes are often heartbreaking. Since Avonte Oquendo’s funeral less than one year ago we have worked with NCMEC on 145 cases of children wandering. And 20 of our cherished children have died. We must do more to protect this vulnerable population through first-responder training, water safety programs, and the implementation of comprehensive preventative measures to assist families when their children go missing.”
The Morrison family was visiting family in Little River, S.C. when he wandered away. His grandmother says, in minutes Jayden was gone and she noticed the front door was left slightly open. The pond where Jayden's body was found is 10 homes away from where he was staying.
Autism Speaks has partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to address autism wandering incidents. Visit this page to find out how to report an active case of wandering. Find Autism Speaks resources to help prevent wandering here.