A Lancaster father's fears intensified Thursday when the body of an 8-year-old boy thought to be his son washed up on an island in Washington State, days after the boy was reported missing with his mother last weekend.
Law enforcement officials from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office said there was a "strong possibility" the boy is the missing Azriel Carver.
Azriel is the son of 32-year-old Jed Carver of Lancaster, who headed to the Pacific Northwest earlier this week to aid in the search for his son and the boy's mother, Shantina Smiley, 29.
The mother and son have been missing since Saturday night, according to authorities. Their minivan was found Sunday partially submerged off of a remote Puget Sound beach under mysterious circumstances.
Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Chris Mealy told the Associated Press he got a call from Pierce County officials Thursday afternoon saying they were responding to a report that a child's body washed up on Fox Island, southwest of Tacoma.
The island is about 12 miles north of the remote Olympia beach where Smiley apparently abandoned her minivan Saturday.
Mealy said it's entirely possible the body is Azriel's.
"The Dana Passage goes right up that way," Mealy said, referring to a tidal system between Olympia and Tacoma.
Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said there is a "strong probability it is Azriel based on the clothing description and what we see at the scene."
The minivan Smiley was driving was found Sunday, partially submerged with its doors open. A wallet containing her driver's license, some cash and credit cards was found in the van.
Two mismatched shoes, a partially full and corked wine bottle, an inhaler and an orange ball have washed ashore since the van was found. Mealy said all the items apparently belonged to the boy or his mother.
People in boats, planes and on foot, as well as divers, have been searching the Boston Harbor area
Mealy said that if the woman and her son went into Puget Sound, they could be anywhere in the region because of the ferocity of the current.
Smiley was heading from her home in Silverdale to her stepfather's house in southwest Washington. Silverdale is about 16 miles west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.
Besides searching the area, investigators have been looking at phone records and talking to people who know Smiley or her son or may have met her as she drove through the back roads of Washington State on Saturday night. Her fiance, Robb Simmons, told authorities she was a recovering alcoholic who relapsed last week.
Smiley called Simmons on Saturday evening during a roadside stop. Her van was found about 50 miles north of her stepfather's home.
Jed Carver was expected to meet up with Simmons in Washington State to aid in this week's search. Carver had recently re-established relations with Azriel and Smiley, his former girlfriend, from whom he had been estranged for about six years, his family said.