GALLERY: More photos from the search for William McQuain.
The body was found Tuesday morning by in a wooded area of the westbound shoulder off Route 121 near Route 355 in the Clarksburg area.
“This is not the ending we were hoping for, everyone involved in this held on to a shred of hope that we would find William alive,” said police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks.
The discovery of the boy’s body comes six days after his mother, Jane McQuain, 51, was found slain in their Germantown apartment after a friend reported her missing. At first there was no sign of William, a sixth-grader at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle school.
Authorities launched a massive search for the boy and his friends and others in the neighborhood held a vigil. But the search ended tragically when the boy’s body was found by a K-9 officer.
Jane McQuain’s estranged husband, Curtis Lopez, who already has been charged in her killing, is the “prime suspect” in William’s death, police said. Starks said they intend to charge him with first-degree murder.
Police said that on Oct. 1, video surveillance at a Germantown storage facility captured images of Lopez and Williams. There was no sign that anything was amiss.
William “appears not not be in any amount of stress. He appears to be playful,” Starks said.
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Sometime that same day, William failed to show up for a Germantown Panthers football game. Delicia Hill, another parent, called Jane McQuain’s cell phone to check on them. William answered, as he often did.
“William, did you know we have a game?” Hill recalled asking.
“I’m not coming today,” he told her, speaking in his regular tone.
Police sources said they believe William was killed sometime later that day.
Lopez was arrested in North Carolina and will be transported back to Maryland to face trial. Starks said Lopez has “declined to speak with us from the beginning.”
Family friends described William as a smart and athletic child who was always by his mother’s side, a boy who impressed people with his good manners and attitude.
William, who grew up without his natural father in his life, excelled in school and sports and acted beyond his years.
“Will knew as a little kid that he was a good-looking young man, and he always loved to pose for pictures,” said Ronald McCombs, who helped raise William in his early years when he was in a relationship with Jane McQuain. “He was a great kid, the kind of kid you hope for.”
McCombs said he was leafing through William’s old drawings and awards — including one from second grade at Gaithersburg Elementary School, when he won “most improved attitude and effort” — and fighting back tears after hearing that his body had been found Tuesday.
It was McQuain’s hope that William would grow up without the problems that plagued her early adulthood, including running with a rough crowd, overindulgence in alcohol, and eventually stretches of homelessness. William’s birth changed her, friends said, and she did everything in her power to keep her past away from William’s present and future.
Family friends said McQuain had been trying for years to keep Curtis Lopez at a distance because of his violent history. Convicted of attempted murder in 1987 for stabbing a man more than a dozen times and dumping his body on an Interstate highway, Lopez served a lengthy prison sentence in Pennsylvania. McQuain, who married Lopez and testified on his behalf at trial, would occasionally visit him in prison over the years.
After William’s birth, McQuain was determined to leave it all behind. She quit drinking, she got a steady job, she concentrated on William’s education and extra-curricular activities.
“Jane didn’t want anything bad around William, so she got a two-bedroom apartment, one room for her and one for him,” said a close family friend who spoke anonymously because she fears retaliation. “Jane didn’t have many people in her life. William was her everything, everything revolved around him. They had a busy, wonderful life together.”
This Post has been updated.
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