Missing 5-year-old Florida boy found dead, officials say

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed a 5-year-old boy has been found dead hours after he was reported missing from his home in Orange County.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Aaron Pena’s body was discovered in a body of water not far from his home on Savannah Landing Circle.

“We are grieving his loss and our prayers are with his family,” the agency said in a statement.

Pena’s mother, Melissa Stanton, told WESH she realized her son was missing on Wednesday when she saw the back door was unlocked and open, and ran outside and couldn’t find him.

She said her son has autism and is non-verbal, and is attracted to bodies of water.

“So I went straight to the pool area and the pond,” she said.

Authorities issued a Missing Child Alert for Pena on Tuesday and looked for the child in a nearby pond using sonar technology.

At about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, authorities said the missing child alert had been canceled.

“It is with sadness to report the child has been found deceased,” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a news release. “Please remember his family and friends during this difficult time.”

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