San Diego

Body of Missing 4-Year-Old Boy Found in Mission Bay Channel; Abduction Claims Unfounded

Wesley Hilaire was reported missing Saturday night in the Mission Bay area when he was with his family.

The body of a 4-year-old boy missing since Saturday night has been found, officials said. 

San Diego Police (SDPD) Officer Cory Mapston said the body of Wesley Hilaire was found 100 yards off the shore near Mission Bay's east channel. Though police had previously issued an Amber Alert, they said Sunday the claims of child abduction were unfounded.

"It appears to be an entirely accidental drowning," SDPD Sgt. Cory Mapston said. 

[G] Officials Search for Missing 4-Year-Old

After Wesley was reported missing just after dark, police began combing through the land and water near the 3000 block of N Mission Bay Drive, where he was last seen. Around 2 a.m., SDPD officials issued an Amber Alert in San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties.

Daniesha Hilaire
A photo of Wesley Hilaire courtesy of his mother.

Mother Daniesha Hilaire was at the scene through the night and into Sunday morning, passing out fliers with her son's information, hoping that the information would help spread the word and find her son. 

"If anybody sees him, just take him from whoever he's with," Daniesha told NBC7 through tears Saturday night. "He was with my sister at the beach and I was at work and I got a text saying that they couldn't find him at the beach."

When she was told her son's body was found, Daniesha collapsed and had to be taken away on a gurney. The boy's grandmother, also at the scene, began yelling and screaming. Many in the area gathered to pray.

At 11 a.m., a Harbor Patrol sonar boat began going through the water slowly and found the boy's body 100 feet from Mission Bay Park. Divers then went in to recover the boy. 

When officials searched the perimeter, Daniesha told NBC 7 her young boy was a bright young man. 

"As a 4-year-old, he knew it all," Daniesha said through laughter. "He knew more than any 4-year-old should probably know."

As the investigation unfolded overnight, police told NBC7 they were not ruling out any possibilities, but believe the young boy was either abducted or drowned, though they said they issued an Amber Alert as a precaution in the event he was abducted. 

NBC7’s Regina Ruiz reports on a four-year-old boy who went missing and was possibly abducted while swimming at Mission Bay.

Wesley was last seen wearing no shirt and red shorts. Wesley was 42 inches tall and weighs approximately 40 pounds, his mother said. He has brown eyes and black hair.

His mother, Daniesha, said he was with his aunt playing with other children in the water. Police initially believed a man may have abducted him after a witness reported seeing a man leading him away from a nearby bathroom. 

The search continued Sunday morning for a missing 4-year-old boy last seen near Mission Bay. NBC 7’s Diana Guevara has the latest.

Sunday morning, the boy's family said the police said the witness' statements seemed questionable. 

"It turns out what the citizen had seen, we dont know what it was about, but it was not about our 4-year-old missing child," Mapston said. 

Search crews were looking in the water and in surrounding areas, but when they failed to find him in the water, they turned the scene into a crime scene. A helicopter and police dogs were called in to aid with the search.

"Officers began doing a missing person's search operation and during that it involved the water, so we had lifeguards," Mapston said. 

The father recently deployed with the U.S. Navy on the USS George Washington, the mother said. 

"My husband just left last week," she told reporters Sunday morning. "Yes, it’s hard. I talked to him last night. No word on if they're going to fly him in."

During their search in the bay, officials found the adult body of a drowning victim. The body was unrelated to the discovery of the young boy's body, police said. For more details, click here. 

The Medical Examiner's office has taken the body to their office in Kearny Mesa, Mapston said, and will continue the investigation. 

"When someone drowns or dies outdoors, the Medical Examiner's office takes custody of the body while they conduct an investigation before releasing to the parents," Mapston said. 

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