Galveston investigators on Sunday were calling for relatives, teachers, neighbors and community members to help identify a young boy found dead on the beach Friday afternoon.
Investigators commissioned a sketch artist to draw a portrait of the boy, who police said was between the ages of 3 and 5. That sketch was released Sunday.
The boy was about 3 feet tall and weighed about 30 pounds, police said. He had dark hair and brown eyes and was possibly Hispanic, authorities said.
How the boy died remained a mystery Sunday, police said. Investigators have been unable to find any missing persons reported that match his appearance, and the medical examiner’s office is still conducting an autopsy, Galveston Police Capt. Joshua Schirard said.
Police are treating the case as a homicide as they attempt to piece together what happened to him, Schirard said.
“Someone somewhere knows this child,” Schirard said in a Sunday afternoon news conference.
A person walking a less-trafficked stretch of beach near 8th Street and Seawall Boulevard discovered the body in the sand about 10 feet from the surf and reported it to police around 5:30 p.m. Friday, Schirard said.
The body was in the early stages of decomposition, Schirard said. The body appeared to have been in the water, but police were uncertain whether it had washed ashore or had been placed on the beach where tides might have reached it, Schirard said.
There were no signs of major trauma, such as missing limbs or a gunshot wound, Schirard said. The boy was nude, though investigators did not know whether his clothes had come off in the water because of the Gulf’s current, which happens in some drowning cases, Schirard said.
The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s office was performing an autopsy during the weekend, but police did not have an early report, Schirard said. Police couldn’t conclude how long the boy had been in the water or on the beach, pending the autopsy, he said.
Police were exploring all possible causes of death, from human trafficking-related causes to accidental death, he said.
The circumstances of the boy’s death are suspicious, particularly because no one has come forward to report a missing boy, Schirard said.
“This is an extremely unusual case for Galveston Island, and the circumstances surrounding this death grow more and more suspicious as time goes on,” Schirard said.
“We are still waiting on the official medical examiner’s report from the autopsy; however, we will continue to treat this death as a homicide until we can unequivocally prove otherwise.”
There are 37 miles of beach on Galveston Island and in most cases of drownings, someone witnesses someone go missing and reports it, Schirard said.
“This is what makes this so different; we don’t have people or bodies wash up on our beach with no explanation of what happened to them,” Schirard said. “This doesn’t happen here. This hasn’t happened here.”