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Missing Boy, 10, Is Found Dead After 4 Days Alone in Woods

He got separated from his family as they prepared to leave New Hampshire to go home to Massachusetts. No foul play is suspected.

October 19, 2003|Mike Recht | Associated Press Writer

LINCOLN, N.H. — A 10-year-old boy who disappeared in the New Hampshire woods was found dead Friday, apparently from exposure, four days after he became separated from his family.

The body of Patric McCarthy was found about 2 1/4 miles from where he was last seen playing Monday near the family condominium on the edge of White Mountain National Forest.

The area had been searched several times, said Col. Jeff Gray of the Fish and Game Department. "Basically, [the searchers] had to be right on top of him to locate him in the vegetation," Gray said.

Gray said that Patric apparently died of exposure, and that the state medical examiner would determine when he died. He said there was no sign of foul play or a fall.

Patric's father, Steve McCarthy, wept as he thanked the hundreds of volunteers who searched for his son for five days.

"All the people who were once strangers now are part of our family. We thank you. We love you and remember Patric," he said.

As many as 500 people at a time had searched night and day for the boy, using helicopters, dogs, night-vision equipment and even kayaks on a river that runs through the mountains.

"We thought we were going to find him, especially today," volunteer Tony Castagna said. "We were just kidding ourselves, I guess."

Patric vanished as his family was packing to head home to Bourne, Mass., a day after celebrating the boy's birthday. Playing about 300 yards from the condominium, Patric challenged his stepbrothers to a race back but never arrived. Authorities believe that he tried a shortcut and got lost.

As the days stretched on, officials became concerned about whether he could survive in the open. The area got a drenching rain Tuesday and strong winds Wednesday. Temperatures dipped into the 30s at night.

Police also searched many of the area's roughly 500 condominiums, looking in crawl spaces, under beds and in closets.

New Hampshire First Lady Denise Benson had joined the hundreds of volunteers Friday.

The boy's uncle said Patric was not prepared for such a situation.

"He's scared to death of the dark," Wayne Rutledge said.

"When you don't know where you are and it's dark and you start thinking of mountain lions and other wild animals, what must go through a 10-year-old's mind?" he said. "Your mind is your worst enemy. It takes a lot of self control.

Patric's father and stepmother, Margaret, had spent the agonizing hours at the condo. His mother, Dee Murray, followed the news from Bourne.

"We're going to find my son today," she had said Friday in a tearful appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America."

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