Body of missing Putnam County 1-year-old found in septic tank near home

Jose Lara was last seen playing in yard of home near Crescent City

Jose Lara. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office announced a missing 1-year-old boy was found dead in a septic tank near his Crescent City home.

In a press conference on Monday, Putnam County Sheriff H.D. Deloach III said the boy was found just after 2 a.m., when the search party emptied the nearby septic tank out of an abundance of caution. There, they found the missing toddler’s body covered in brush, he said.

DeLoach said weeds, dirt and plywood covered the opening, and the little boy appears to have stepped on the rotted plywood and fell in.

An investigation into the boy’s death is ongoing, but Deloach said as of right now, there are no signs of foul play.

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News 6 partner WJXT-TV reported, Jose Lara was last seen around 1:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon, playing with his sibling in the backyard of their home. His mother took his sibling into their home to wash them up, and when she returned, Jose was gone. He only knows Spanish as a language, and was wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt at the time of his disappearance.

Shortly after he went missing, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a Missing Child Alert.

The sheriff’s office said it is on the scene in the 2900 Block of US Highway 17 South just north of the Volusia County line. Bloodhound tracking teams and aviation assets are actively searching for the child.

Deputies found toys that Jose plays with in the woods behind his home. There is a pond in the woods, and while Jose is known to be very mobile, it’s not likely he made his way there.

1-year-old child, who answers to Jose, who went missing in Putnam County. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

An Amber Alert was not issued because there currently is no evidence of an abduction or criminal activity, the sheriff’s office said.

People searched throughout the night, and Volusia County flew its helicopter until midnight at which time Marion County took over.

About the Authors:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.

Penny De La Cruz started working at WKMG-TV in September 2021. Before joining News 6, Penny worked at KSAT 12 in San Antonio, Texas.