Authorities in Iowa said Thursday that they believe they have recovered the remains of a 16-year-old autistic boy who was last seen in April.
At a news conference, police said the remains were discovered Tuesday by recreational kayakers in an area that had been searched repeatedly by authorities looking for Jake Wilson.
Wilson had said he was going for a walk along Wolf Creek, which winds through La Porte City, a town of approximately 2,300 people in the northeastern part of the state. His family said he didn’t have his glasses on at the time, and that he has the mental capacity of a 9-year-old boy.
La Porte City Police Chief Chris Brecher told reporters that tests showed the remains are “consistent with what we’re looking for.” He said investigators were not yet in any position to determine whether foul play was involved.
Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said the creek’s water level had receded dramatically since the spring, which may have paved the way for the discovery. He said that additional searches and testing were underway and urged kayakers to stay out of the creek in the coming days.
The discovery comes amid a massive search for missing college student Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared from the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, on July 18. Thompson noted that the Tibbetts case has renewed interest in the plight of Wilson and other missing Iowa residents in recent weeks.
The boy’s disappearance had prompted a search involving the FBI, state and local police officers, and hundreds of volunteers. Wilson’s smiling face was plastered on missing posters throughout the region, and his family described Jake as a gentle lover of nature who simply never came home from a walk on a spring day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.