The family's community helped with the search when the boy went missing. They also held a memorial service for him on Monday.
Landon "Waldy" Raber from Virginia went missing the last weekend. The six-year-old was found dead on Monday morning, according to authorities.
His body was found "in a small pond on the property that he went missing from." Buckingham County Department of Emergency Services thanked everyone who helped out in the search, in a Facebook Post. "Please keep the family in your thoughts, and respect their privacy during this difficult time," they wrote.
According to Toga Volunteer Fire Dept., Inc, authorities were notified about the absence of Raber at around 8:45 a.m. on Monday. The child with non-verbal autism was last seen wearing grey pants and a green and blue t-shirt at 4650 New Store Rd. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia State Police, and the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office all assisted in the search which led to the discovery of the heartbreaking fate of Raber, per PEOPLE.
Landon “Waldy” Raber, a 6-year-old non-verbal boy with autism and Down syndrome, was found dead this morning in Buckingham County, Virginia, after being reported missing. https://t.co/MtwYd6SA7A— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) July 11, 2022
Cody Davis, the Incident Commander and Chief of the Department of Emergency Services for Buckingham County, told ABC affiliate WRIC, "We were able to do everything from, you know, your widespread mainline searches just to cover that square footage in those big areas, to your focused efforts in the creek bottoms and things like that." The overnight search for the child was one of the most extensive that Davis has seen in his career.
"It was a lot to process in terms of space and size. And if we weren’t fortunate enough to have the amount of folks come out that we did, things would have been a little bit more difficult," he said.
For the search, the Sheriff's Office reported an aerial drone, and additional resources, including a fixed-wing aircraft from Virginia State Police, were dispatched. There was also a lot of community support throughout the hunt, with volunteers helping out at a gathering hosted at the family's ice cream truck in Farmville, which was known for raising autism and Down syndrome awareness.
Following the devastating news, the family's community held a memorial service for Raber on Monday afternoon. The event page on Facebook read, "This will be a place to pray for and support the family and also to remember the sweet life of Landon 'Waldy' Raber!" They further added, "His short life has touched so many people and we want to take this time to show our support and grieve together as a community/friends/family!"
Davis said, "It does paint a perfect picture of Buckingham County as a community. We’re a very close-knit group that has its positives and its negatives, and I think last night was a glaring depiction of a positive."
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Melissa Stoltzfus