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5-year-old boy with autism found dead in pond near Orange County home


ORANGE COUNTY, Florida. –A missing child search ended in tragedy on Thanksgiving morning after the body of 5-year-old Aaron Peña was found in a pond near his Orange County home, deputies say.

Peña’s mother, Melissa Stanton, said the 5-year-old was autistic and non-verbal and moved away from his home on Wednesday.

The boy’s home is located near Moss Park Road and State Road 417, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

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Stanton told News 6 he walked out the back door of the house around 12:45 p.m.

According to Stanton, she was working from home when she realized she couldn’t hear Peña in the background, which is when she realized something was wrong.

“I wasn’t hearing any type of laughing sounds or he was singing over and over again – like repetitive songs – he does, or he will usually create a scenario where he talks to himself about the birds, the colors and the songs that he watches on YouTube,” she said.

Aaron Pena, 5 years old (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.)

Stanton said she then went to check on her children’s rooms, and after seeing that he was not there, she saw that the back door had been opened. Although the door is usually locked, she told News 6 that she believes Peña has figured out how to unlock it.

Stanton reported the child missing, leading deputies and neighbors to launch a search near the house.

Just before 1 a.m. Thursday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced the boy had been found dead.

“It is with heavy hearts that we must report that Aaron Pena was found, deceased, in a body of water not far from his home. We mourn his loss and our prayers are with his family,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

No further details were released.

Stanton said Peña was the youngest of her three children.

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Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All Rights Reserved.

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