FORT JENNINGS — A 5-year-old autistic Putnam County boy, missing since Wednesday afternoon, was found dead in the Auglaize River just after 5 p.m. Thursday.
Isaac Schroeder, the son of Sarah and Austin Schroeder, 21862 Putnam County Road S, Fort Jennings, was reported missing at 3:09 p.m. Wednesday. His mother called law enforcement to report that the boy had walked out of the home.
For more than 24 hours, law enforcement and first responders searched the area around the home, as well as the Auglaize River, located near the Schroeder property.
Putnam County Sheriff Brian Siefker confirmed late Thursday afternoon that the boy's body had been recovered from the river, less than a mile from the home.
During two press conferences held on Thursday, Capt. Brad Brubaker of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office shared that "deputies were immediately dispatched, along with Fort Jennings and Kalida police departments. Also sent to the scene were Fort Jennings Fire Department and Ottoville EMS. Once on the scene, first responders began searching inside the residence, as well as a shed on the property. Neighbors in the area also were asked to check their properties and vehicles for Isaac.
"Also due to the Auglaize River being adjacent to the property, additional fire departments with watercraft were dispatched to the scene and staged at bridges downstream from the residence," stated Brubaker. Dive teams responded as well.
On the scene were Life Flight from Bluffton and a drone from the sheriff's office, as well as an Ohio Department of Natural Resources canine team, the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
"We searched the area until dark last evening," noted Brubaker. "At that time, we pulled our rescue watercraft from the water and also asked for volunteers to stay away from the river for their safety. We also wanted to limit the amount of people in the area of the water as we had an aircraft from the OSHP in the area that could search for body heat, so we wanted as few people in the area as possible as they did their search.
"The aircraft searched until approximately 11 p.m. last night. Through the night, we maintained emergency personnel at the scene and then at 7 a.m. (Thursday), volunteers were asked to report to the park to sign up to assist," he relayed.
The captain estimated around 900 or more volunteers turned out to help.
According to scanner traffic, responding emergency personnel included Continental, Kalida and Allen County’s Delphos and American Township, and Hancock County.
Brubaker shared that emergency personnel began searching several miles downstream on the Auglaize River because of the current, as well as a three-mile radius from the home in their search grids.
Donations are being accepted at the Fort Jennings State Bank under the Schroeder family name.