Noah Thomas' mother says her 5-year-old was watching cartoons in his Pulaski County, Va., home on Sunday when she took a two-hour nap. She woke up and he was gone. Yesterday, his body was found in a septic tank on his parents' property, USA Today reports. Investigators have yet to determine what happened, and this morning the sheriff's office called for a focus on "facts and physical evidence" rather than "speculation or rumors." The investigation is currently framed as a "death investigation, with WDBJ noting "crime scene" tape wasn't used at the scene. Authorities should know more when a cause of death is determined, though it's not clear when that will be.
Investigators haven't answered questions about how the septic tank can be accessed and whether it's possible the death was an accident, but at least some family members have their suspicions. "You don't get in a septic tank by accident," an uncle tells the Roanoke Times. "Somebody's going to pay." Neighbors say septic tanks in the area are typically four to five feet underground; Noah's body was found just hours after a $5,000 reward was announced. As for his parents, they are cooperating with authorities, and the sheriff, who describes them as "living a nightmare," asked that the public refrain from rushing to judgment. Says the uncle, "No one loved Noah more than Paul and Ashley." The search for the boy began within half an hour of his mother realizing he was missing, WDBJ reports. (Read more child death stories.)