LIVE OAK, Fla. - Hours after Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams confirmed the body of a child recovered Friday is that of 9-year-old Leo Walker, members of the community helped search for the boy gathered for a candlelight vigil and balloon release.
"I ask that we continue to pray for this family," said Williams.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a statewide missing child alert Wednesday morning. By Friday morning, a dozen law enforcement agencies and over 100 community volunteers conducting a grid search for Leo, who disappeared from his mother's Duval Street home.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI had joined with Live Oak police, the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office and dozens of community volunteers conducting a grid search for Leo. Helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, ATVs, dive teams and bloodhounds were also involved in the search.
Authorities quickly said no foul play was suspected with the death, but were waiting on a positive identification.
Sunday night, Walker's loved ones came together in his memory for a vigil at John Hale Park.
"It gives me joy to know that a small community like this can love and cherish a small boy like Leo," said Dustin Smith, Leo's cousin.
It may be a small community but it was a big turnout. Those who attended released balloons to heaven in his memory. It brings his family comfort knowing he's in a better place.
"He's up in heaven talking to family up there, talking and able to run and speak. And jump for joy and just carry on life," Smith said.
Williams said he is also father of a special needs child.
"Although a tragedy has occurred, it has brought our community together in a lot of ways. It is a wonderful thing to see, a close-knit community joining together. Although the outcome was not what we wanted, I think it was a learning experience for all of us."
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