Noah Chamberlin has been found dead, with authorities locating the body of the missing 2-year-old in the Tennessee woods one week after he went missing.
The toddler had gone missing while on a walk last week with his grandmother and older sister, setting off a massive search that brought thousands of volunteers and law enforcement officials from across the state. After several days of harsh, cold, and wet weather hampered the search efforts, crews finally found the body of Noah on Thursday.
Officials said the boy was found close to 1.5 miles from where he was last seen, NBC News reported.
Authorities believe Noah Chamberlin simply ran off and couldn’t be found.
— FOX13 Memphis (@FOX13Memphis) January 21, 2016
— Mashable (@mashable) January 22, 2016
“Everybody we talked to talked about how he ran all the time, jumped over tables, ran, just nonstop,” said Madison County Sheriff John Mehr. “He loved to hide. We had people tell us that even adults would run after him, and they couldn’t catch him.”
“Just like grandma said, she turned her head for a minute and he was gone,” said Chester County Sheriff Blair Weaver. “There were trails everywhere.”
During the search for Noah, officials said they interviewed all nearby sex offenders and rebuffed rumors that his family may have had something to do with the disappearance, saying repeatedly that they did not suspect foul play.
They said that again after Noah Chamberlin was found dead on Thursday, calling it a tragic accident.
Authorities also explained that Noah’s body was found in a recently expanded search area.
“Everyday we expanded our search further and further,” Madison County Chief Eric Turner said. “This was an area – it was on the outskirts of what we had searched and we were back searching it for the second time. It was right on the borderline of where we’ve been searching. They walked up on him.”
As the search for Noah approached one week, frustration was growing more evident among those leading the search. The search efforts had to be halted on several occasions for winter weather, and even trained dogs failed to pick up the boy’s trail — which some authorities said may have been because Noah was too small to leave a scent.
“I’m tired,” Weaver said Monday morning. “It’s not frustration, it’s we’re tired. We’ve been out 70 hours, Sheriff Mehr and myself, before we went home. We have dedication to find Noah and we have a faith and belief that we’re going to find him. We’re doing everything possibly human to find him.”
Authorities also appeared to grow agitated at the rumors spreading around in the community that Noah may have been abducted. Early on in the search, rumors spread that a neighbor had just installed a new concrete fixture in the backyard, which some suspect could have been used to hide the boy’s body, but police reiterated that the structure in question was years old.
Police also addressed rumors that a family member may have been responsible for the boy’s death, saying that there were never any suspicions of foul play and that the family had been cooperative the entire time. During the search Noah’s parents remained quiet, allowing others to make comments on their behalf and not addressing the media directly.
Police said they have requested an autopsy of the boy, but reiterated that they do not suspect foul play in the death of Noah Chamberlin and have not opened a criminal investigation.
[Image via Chamberlin family]