Missing 5-year-old with autism found dead in pond near home, Florida police say

Orange County Sheriff's Office

A 5-year-old boy was found dead hours after going missing from his Florida home, police say.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced the death of Aaron Pena with “a heavy heart.” Aaron was described by the sheriff’s office as a “non-verbal child with autism.”

“We must report that Aaron Pena was found deceased, in a body of water, not far from his home,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post on Thursday, Nov. 24. “We are grieving his loss and our prayers are with his family.”

Aaron went missing around 12:45 p.m. Wednesday after his mother noticed the back door was open, WESH reported.

“He’s attracted to bodies of water as well, so I went straight to the pool area and the pond,” Melissa Stanton told WESH of her son.

His disappearance led the sheriff’s office to declare a missing child alert. Aaron was wearing a brown long-sleeve shirt with dinosaur pajama pants when he went missing from his Orlando home, the sheriff’s office said.

Aaron, the youngest of Stanton’s three children, was found in the pond at about 1 a.m. Thursday, according to WKMG.

The sheriff’s office did not release a cause of death.