The body of a 3-year-old boy who disappeared outside a home near here was found in a septic tank late Friday, less than 10 feet from where he was reported missing two days earlier, Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said Saturday.
An autopsy performed in Missoula showed Loic J.M. Rogers drowned, Meehan said.
The blond-haired, blue-eyed boy was reported missing Wednesday night, and an Amber Alert was issued Thursday. The boy's father, Mark Rogers, told police he took Loic out to his car outside a friend's home and told the boy to get in, before going back into the house for Loic's sister.
Mark Rogers "said he was inside only for a minute," Meehan said Friday. When he came back outside, the boy was gone. The father said he searched for about 20 minutes before calling law enforcement.
Authorities said Saturday they had looked in the septic tank during search efforts, but did not see anything. They found the boy's body after draining the tank, Meehan said.
The manhole-sized lid to the septic tank was closed. Meehan declined to characterize the boy's death as a murder, but said investigators do not believe he could have climbed into the tank and put the lid back on.
"This is a tragedy," Meehan said Saturday. "This is truly a tragedy. I have three sons myself and believe me I was out there last night and I can attest to the fact that there was about 20 agents and deputies out there and there wasn't a dry eye in the group."
Meehan said it would likely take four to five days to complete the investigation.