Michigan boy, 5, who went missing on Christmas Day found dead, police say

A 5-year-old boy who went missing on Christmas Day was found dead in a rural pond, authorities said Thursday.

Beau Belson was last seen playing with family members around 2:30 p.m. near a home in Six Lakes, Michigan, located about 50 miles northeast of Grand Rapids. Law enforcement and a team of volunteers began searching for the boy, who was autistic.

Michigan State Police said Belson was found in a pond near the home of his grandmother in Montcalm County, and the manner of death wasn’t considered suspicious. 

“The body of 5-year-old Beau Belson was recovered from a pond adjacent to the home from which he was reported missing shortly after noon today by the MSP Marine Services Team," police said on Twitter.

The boy was wearing a jacket, boots and dinosaur pajamas when he was last seen.

“We’re not sure at this point if he just wandered into the water, fell in, we’re not sure at this point,” state police Lt. David Cope told WOOD-TV.

Authorities earlier had expressed hope that mild daytime weather might work in the child’s favor. About 1,000 volunteers turned out on Christmas to search for the boy, according to WOOD-TV.

“Of course, temperatures did dip down close to freezing last night,” Cope said earlier Thursday “Any person, regardless of age, you don’t want them being alone in the wilderness for several hours at a time, especially in the 30-degree weather range.”

State police First Lt. Kevin Sweeney confirmed the news on Thursday to an anxious crowd of search and rescue volunteers.

“Unfortunately, he was found in a pond and he’s no longer with us,” Sweeney said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.