Missing boy, 9, with autism found dead in Pearland

Hundreds gather for prayer vigil to remember Marcus McGhee

PEARLAND, Texas - Hundreds gathered for a prayer vigil to remember a 9-year-old boy hours after search crews recovered his body Saturday near a body of water in Pearland.

Marcus McGhee, 9, disappeared Thursday afternoon in the 6700 block of Fite Road. Pearland police said Marcus was autistic.

Police notified the public on their Facebook page that they found Marcus' body Saturday morning.

Pearland police said the body was found around 7 a.m. in a pond near Marcus' family's home.

"We first found out about the tragic ending to the search as volunteers were showing up for the 8 a.m. call to begin looking for the boy," said Lt. Lopez, of the Pearland Police Department.

Dozens of volunteers had showed up to assist in the search, but have since been thanked by police and asked to stand down.

Police said Marcus and his family were visiting from Connecticut.

At the vigil Saturday, chaplains from the Pearland Police Department led a crowd in prayer. Many who attended also helped in the search for Marcus.

"We all wanted to do something, as little as we could. We tried our best but it didn't work out the way we hoped it would," said Phillip Newsome, a volunteer.

"I've been very emotional all day because we looked so hard. I just feel like we didn't work hard enough because we didn't find him alive," said Sonia Parker, a volunteer, and director of Parents Against Predators, an organization that advocates for missing children.

Marcus McGhee is related to former Houston Rockets player Marcus Camby, police said. Marcus and his family were at Camby's home when he disappeared.

A growing memorial outside Camby's home drew well wishes, flowers and balloons from passersby, people who felt impacted by McGhee's death.

An autopsy report to determine McGhee's cause of death was not available as of Saturday.

The search

Authorities were also using boats to search a large pond on the property.

"We were able to review surveillance video from the house, and it gave up a general direction of where he exited. But beyond that, the camera didn't extend out into the yard. Once he left the house, we don't have a clear direction of travel on him," Lt. Onesimo Lopez, with the Pearland Police Department, said.

Police said they reversed course to say that Marcus may be drawn to the sound of all-terrain vehicles and may want a ride. They urged searchers on ATVs to drive slowly in case Marcus heard them.

Police said a footprint trail was spotted Friday afternoon near Berry Miller Junior High School close to the home, but there were sign of Marcus.

Texas EquuSearch joined the search for Marcus.

A command post was set up by the police at the Dad's Club of the Pearland Little League complex at 5522 Fite Road.

A Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene running search patterns above the search area after a bloodhound was unable to regain a track on Marcus' scent.

Police believed Marcus was on foot in the area and did not suspect foul play.

"He's barefoot, so we're asking people to check for little kid footprints out there in the mud," Lopez said. "We're looking more at the 1128 and Magnolia area. There's some walking trails out there, there's a lot of open land, and there's also a lot of bodies of water out there."

Police said Marcus loves the songs, "Wheels on the Bus," "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "If You're Happy and You Know It."

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