CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - Recovery teams early today retrieved the body of four-year-old Samuel Jones. The boy had fallen feet-first down a narrow, 30-foot hole in his neighbor's backyard in Carlsbad. Now investigators are trying to figure out if that neighbor is partly to blame.
Search crews looked for Samuel since Saturday evening, after he vanished from his yard.
After working through the night, the boy's body was recovered Monday morning from what looks like an old water well.
"Some of the information we have goes pretty far back. If this well is the one we think it is, it was in the 1940's actually when it was dug," said Carlsbad Police Chief, Daniel Fierro.
What started as a hole 14-inches wide is now a huge trench. Crews dug all night, for about 16 hours from an angle to avoid collapsing the hole.
Police initially believed Jones may had been kidnapped Saturday evening, and searched for him through Saturday night.
An officer spotted the hole in the neighbor's fenced off yard Sunday morning. After lowering a camera down 30-feet, they confirmed there was a small child in it.
Then, Monday morning, around 7 a.m., he was pulled out and the family confirmed it was Samuel.
Neighbors, family, and friends gathered around the home Monday to grieve, and set up a memorial.
The investigation is being treated as a homicide until it can be ruled out, but police said there's no indication at this point of foul play. "It's very possible that it could have been an accident," Chief Fierro said.
"I mean, the hole was in the yard, it was very difficult to see, in fact when we were doing the initial search, the officer who found it the next day walked right past it and didn't see it that night."
Fierro said it's unclear if the boy's neighbor, who's in his 70's, had been keeping the hole covered before this happened.
"There was some tin, and that type of thing in the yard, so it's possible that it had been covered, maybe the wind blew it off or something, but I don't know positively," explained Fierro.
There was a chain link fence separating the two yards. Police said it's possible the four-year-old may have climbed over it, or since the gate was unlocked, he may have just walked through.
Samuel's body was sent to Albuquerque Monday for an autopsy. Police said it's possible the homeowner could face negligence charges.
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