The Horry County Coroner confirmed that 4-year-old Jayden Morrison's body was found in a pond in Little River, South Carolina Friday. Jayden went missing on Christmas Eve. According to Jayden's mother, he was diagnosed with autism and was nonverbal.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of Jayden and our hearts go out to his loved ones,” said Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks. “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.”
On Saturday, the community involved in the search for Jayden held a vigil for the boy, and his father spoke to WPDE.
"I have no words, no final words for the love I have for the region down here for all the hard work they put in. You sacrificed Christmas, you sacrificed Christmas Eve to search for my son. My son that's a visitor down here. And the love that has come back for my son, it's like they've known him from the day he came out the womb," Jayden's father said.
The Morrison family of White Plains, N.Y., was visiting family in Little River, S.C. when Jordan 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.
When word got out about Jayden's disappearance, neighbors, police and strangers banded together to search for him. A retired firefighter even donated his personal drone to rescue efforts.
Horry County Lieutenant Raul Denis said in a news conference Friday that it appears Jayden died due to drowning. A medic volunteer found the child's body.
Info on services for Jayden is as follows:
Calvary Baptist Church
188 Orawaupum Street
White Plains, NY 10606
Friday, Jan. 2 from 5:00pm-8:00pm
Saturday, Jan. 3 at 11am
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.