By WESH Staff
ORLANDO, Florida (WESH) — Deputies said early Thursday that missing 5-year-old Aaron Pena had been found dead.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we must report that Aaron Pena was found, deceased, in a body of water not far from his home. We are grieving his loss and our prayers are with his family,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
Pena went missing around 12:45 p.m. from his home on Savannah Landing Circle.
Pena’s mother, Melissa Stanton, was in tears Wednesday night pleading for Pena, who has autism and is non-verbal, to be found safe.
When Stanton didn’t hear her son Wednesday, she went looking for him in the home. When she noticed the back door had been unlocked and open, she ran out searching for Pena.
“He’s attracted to bodies of water as well, so I went straight to the pool area and the pond,” she said. “He has a little scar on his forehead and has a perfect smile.”
Sheriff’s deputies searched a nearby pond using sonar. Deputies even stopped all vehicles leaving the gated community of Nona Terrace where the boy lives, searching for any trace of him.
Neighbors, even strangers, didn’t hesitate to search too.
“I just said, ‘oh my God, I need to jump on my bike and grab a flashlight.’ We were on the bike and said, ‘let’s go try to find him,’” Heidi Lear said. “The last thing anybody wants is to lose their child, especially before Thanksgiving.”
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