A Carlsbad, New Mexico boy declared missing since Saturday was found dead, his body dug up from a 30-foot-deep hole behind his neighbor's house.
The Carlsbad missing boy, only four years old at the time of his disappearance, was named Samuel Jones. 7 a.m. Monday morning, authorities attempted to rescue the boy, but found that the conditions deep underground were "not survivable." Parents were present at the hole as the search officially became a recovery effort.
"We initially began with rescue procedures," Police Chief Daniel Fierro told KRQE-TV. "Unfortunately, it was discovered that the conditions inside the hole were not survivable, the amount of oxygen that was there, that type of thing."
An Amber Alert was issued when little Samuel was reported missing Saturday afternoon, according to The Associated Press. While cousins were over playing in the yard, they were watched by Samuel's mother. She stepped inside for a minute, and when she returned, the 4-year-old was gone.
"[Jones' mother] said he may have thrown them over the fence and went over to get them," said Gabriela Morrison, a friend of the mourning family. "She went in for a minute and when she came out, he was gone. She said it was like maybe 25 minutes before she called the police trying to find him herself."
After a day of searching, authorities eventually located Samuel's body at the bottom of a hole in the neighbor's yard. Separating the Jones' yard from the hole was a 4-foot fence, which the Carlsbad boy could have easily hopped. The hole, which was about 14 inches wide, so authorities stuck a camera down there to investigate.
"It was a fairly deep hole. We began investigating that and did discover that there was a body of a small child," said Fierro.
They found Samuel, but no signs of life. The Amber Alert was canceled later that night.
The excavation was conducted by a team from Roswell, New Mexico. They used metal shoring typically used for pipeline construction, hand tools, and a jackhammer to recover the body.
The case is still being investigated as a homicide until police are certain of Jones' cause of death.