PEARLAND, Texas -- A 9-year-old autistic boy who went missing in Pearland on Thanksgiving Day has been found dead.
According to the Pearland Police Department, Marcus McGhee went missing from a home in the 6700 block of Fite around 4 p.m. Thursday.
Surveillance video captured Marcus exiting the rear of the home. He was wearing a black t-shirt, with a green Nike swoosh on it, and gray and black sweat pants. He was not wearing any shoes. Family members say he may have an iPad with him, but because there is no wifi, the device could not be tracked.
The boy, who was related to former NBA player Marcus Camby, was from Connecticut and in town visiting family.
After the alert went out, dozens of citizens joined in the search, but because Marcus had special needs, police initially asked that no ATVs or horses be used in the search because loud noises or large animals could frighten the child.
“If he doesn’t know people and they’re calling his name or who’s looking for him, he may not respond to those calls. We’re hopeful that he maybe gets tired and hungry enough to come out," said Lieutenant Onesimo Lopez of the Pearland Police Department.
ATVS were later brought in, however, to search a nearby pipeline easement.
Pearland police were joined by Pasadena PD, HPD choppers and Texas Equusearch, but the real man power came from the Pearland residents who showed up in droves to help the McGhee family look for their boy.
“Thousands of people have been coming to volunteer to help. Our community is a big family. We all care for each other. I’m proud to be a part of this city and proud to be associated with these people. We all are concerned and we all want to find this little boy," said Dee Wyner, a director for the Pearland Police Department.
A bloodhound track pointed authorities to the area of FM 1128 and FM 518. Citizens were asked to fan out in all directions from that point, and not contaminate the scent the dog picked up on.
The bloodhound eventually lost the scent, unable to regain a track, and a Coast Guard helicopter joined in to run search patterns.
The helicopter searched all bodies of water as well as the surrounding area, but was unable to locate any signs of the boy.
On Friday morning, volunteers were sent to search an area of Magnolia and FM 1128. Police said there is a bayou and retention ponds in the area that may be attractive to autistic children.
So many volunteers showed up, Pearland PD posted to Facebook asking people to avoid the search party headquarters at the Dad’s Club baseball fields and drive through neighborhoods instead, making sure to not trespass on anyone’s property.
“I think we can help him find his home and his family," said Mackenzie, who was searching for Marcus with her sister, Paisley, and her mom, Cynthia.
Cynthia added, “We’re out here to help their family, because if something like this were to happen to us, we’d want someone helping our family.”
As the search continued and the hours dragged on -- emotions were growing heavy for the tight-knit community.
“We’re not going to give up. Hopefully he’ll be found safe and uninjured. We’ll give up when they find him," said search party volunteer Terry Hopkins.
At that moment, Terry was on her 12th straight hour of searching for Marcus. She showed no sign of stopping any time soon.
Sadly, the search ended Saturday when Marcus' body was found.