Sheriff: Death of 4-year-old Scotland County boy appears accidental

SCOTLAND COUNTY, NC (WMBF) – The FBI has announced they believe they have found the body of 4-year-old Raul Gonzalez Johnson, who was reported missing out of Scotland County.

The Scotland County Medical Examiner's Office still has to confirm the identity and cause of death. The body was found in a pond off of Peabridge Road.

During a press conference Saturday afternoon with the Sheriff's Office and the FBI, Sheriff Ralph Kersey said at this time in the investigation, the death appears accidental.

Officials with the FBI said Raul, who was first listed with the last name of Johnson, is now also referred to as Raul Gonzalez.

The child's family thinks he wandered out through the back door Wednesday while his grandfather was cooking in the kitchen.

A neighbor said Raul came knocking at her door, but she told him to go home. That was the last time anyone saw him.

Hundreds of law enforcement officials were searching for the child by foot and air, as well as checking a nearby pond.

On Friday afternoon, officials announced they will drain that pond to make sure dive teams did not miss anything.

Charlotte firefighters were also called in to help with the search. They're switching out crews every 24 hours and, they say, the search is intensifying.

"They've widened the search area and they're trying to hit every porch, every outhouse, every utility building and things of that nature in this area," Charlotte Fire Deputy Chief Rich Granger said. "So we sent 12 firefighters, three companies and a battalion chief down earlier today (Friday). They're down walking and doing search patterns with everybody else. They've just recently requested that we sustain that through this weekend, so we'll be sending approximately 12 firefighters down every day to assist with the search."

Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said earlier this week Raul has wandered off before, even going missing for about 25 minutes Tuesday.
Kersey said the child was barefoot when he wandered off this time, so the sheriff thinks he may have gone to a barn or hayfield to get warm.

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