Four-Year-Old Alex Mercado Was Drowned

November 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Four-year-old Alex Mercado was reported missing from his family's home in Mendota. A day later -- his body was found inside a neighbor's home, and a fourteen year old boy was arrested.Late Monday afternoon Sheriff Margaret Mims said that Alex had voluntarily gone to his neighbors home and was dead within an hour of going next door.

The sheriff will not say whether the child was lured over, but the boy was acquainted with the suspect and did not appear to be forced inside the home where he was drowned.

While volunteers and deputies desperately looked for any sign of four-year-old Alex Mercado, Sheriff Margaret Mims said sadly, the boy's life had already been taken.

Sheriff Mims said, "We believe within just a few minutes of him playing outside his house, that probably within the hour, he had been murdered. So he was in the dryer for almost 24 hours."

Investigators say it was an FBI agent who asked to search inside a neighbor's home Saturday, who discovered the child's body. The dryer was located inside a closet.

Mendota Police Chief Jerry Galvin says he talked to Alex's mother Monday, and although devastated, is thankful for the outpouring of love from the community.

Chief Galvin said, "I've talked to the mother today and she is appreciative to that and so is the father. Mendota is in mourning and there's people coming forward to help and we appreciate that also."

Mims says the suspect, who we are not identifying because of his age, was acquainted with Alex since they were next door neighbors.

SEND DONATIONS TO:
Alex Mercado Memorial Fund
Account # 0261977268
Westamerica Bank

The sheriff will not say what the motive may have been or whether Alex was assaulted in any other way before his death.

Investigators are still questioning the suspect's family members to find out whether any of them knew the child was in the dryer while a massive search was going on.

"We are still trying to pin that down. We have our opinions about that, but it wouldn't be appropriate to talk about it," said Sheriff Mims.

The sheriff said investigators believe the suspect acted alone. The 14 year old is in custody and does not have any prior criminal history.

The decision has not been made yet whether he will be tried as an adult.



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