DALLAS (AP) – Police released a photo Tuesday of a still-unidentified boy whose dead body washed ashore three months ago in Galveston, Texas.
Investigators made the unusual move in hopes of generating new leads after hundreds of other tips have not provided answers. Previously, a police sketch artist drew a portrait of the boy that was widely released in news outlets, on billboards from Texas to Kentucky and through national missing children’s foundations.
Police spokesman Josh Schirard says investigators didn’t take lightly their decision to release the photo of the boy’s face taken shortly after he was found washed ashore Oct. 20. He says it was edited slightly to remove signs of decomposition to make it easier for the public to see.
“We’ve exhausted all of the other things we can do. This was not up there with anything anyone wanted to do or would have chosen to do in any other instance,” Schirard said at a news conference Tuesday.
Police had released a few physical characteristics of the boy previously: he weighed about 30 pounds and was 3 or 4 years old. They added that an autopsy showed previous signs of neglect and abuse, although they would not elaborate.
Detective Jeff Banks said the boy did not have water in his lungs, meaning police believe the boy they’ve named “Little Jacob” was dead before his body was dumped in the water. But an autopsy did not give police a definitive cause of death because there was not a physical injury or signs of an illness that would have been fatal, he said.
Schirard said the department worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Weather Service to use drift analysis, which determined that the boy’s body had been placed in the water locally between 12 and 48 hours before he was found, likely east of that location given the tide. He said the autopsy showed the boy had died around Oct. 17 or 18.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the family or caregiver of the boy.
This is the second time in a decade the beach community is working to identify a child whose body was found on its shores.
It took only a few days after police released a composite sketch nationally for a relative to identify the little girl nicknamed Baby Grace whose body was found in late October 2007 by a fisherman on the beach of an uninhabited island off the coast of Galveston. The mother and stepfather of 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers were convicted of capital murder in her beating death.
Here is the entire message that the Galveston Police Department posted on its Facebook page with a photo of the deceased boy:
“Little Jacob” Autopsy results and Photo Release In Efforts to Help Identify Child
On Friday October 20th, 2017 the Galveston Police Department recovered the body of a male child on the beach near the 700 block of Seawall Blvd. When found, the child was in the water, near the shoreline and was found unclothed. At the time of the discovery, no family or friends were present to claim or identify the child. The Galveston Police Department subsequently launched an investigation to identify this child and the circumstances surrounding his death.
The Galveston Police Department immediately reached out to local law enforcement agencies as well as the Coast Guard to determine if there had been any recent reports of missing children. Searches were also conducted in local, state, and national databases, looking for reports of missing children matching the boy’s description; however, those searches provided no promising results.
We immediately reached out to the public to gather any information we could, releasing a sketch of the child in hopes that someone would recognize the boy, nicknamed “Little Jacob”. Over the following weeks and with the assistance of the FBI, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, detectives have pursued, and exhausted hundreds of tips, but Little Jacob still remains unidentified.
Evidence found and collected at the scene and during the autopsy is limited. DNA samples have been collected and submitted to multiple labs in hopes of identifying the boy, unfortunately, these methods have been unable to assist with the identification as children this age do not usually have fingerprints or DNA on file.
At this stage of the investigation, it is believed that “Little Jacob” died around October 17th-18th 2017. Based on reverse drift analyses conducted by the US Coast Guard and the National Weather Service, it is believed that Little Jacob’s body was put into the water locally, in the Galveston County area. Information obtained at autopsy also shows that Little Jacob was deceased prior to going into the water, and that he did not die as a result of drowning.
The child’s body appeared to have been in the water between 12-48 hours and autopsy results indicate that prior to his death, Little Jacob showed signs of neglect and injuries consistent with abuse; however, none of the injuries appeared to have been fatal.
At this time a cause of death has yet to be determined. The Galveston Police Department and its partners will continue to treat this case as a homicide until it can otherwise be ruled out. Further investigation is needed to find out what happened to “Little Jacob,” and the first, and most crucial step in that investigation is identifying him.
In an effort to exhaust all possible routes to identify “Little Jacob”, the Galveston Police Department is now releasing a photograph of the boy in hopes that someone seeing the true likeness of the child will confirm their suspicions that they know who this is and that they can help us identify him and the circumstances surrounding his death.
We continue to believe that someone out there knows this child. Someone has seen him. This child deserves to be identified and properly laid to rest but for this to happen, input from the public is crucial.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for the successful identification and location of the family members caring for this young boy at the time of his disappearance. If you have any information regarding the identity or circumstances surrounding the death of “Little Jacob,” please call 1-800-CALL-FBI.