THE SEARCH for 7-year-old Michael Kingsbury ended in heartbreak. But there is no end to the questions that surround the death of a little boy with autism whose body was found in a car parked so anguishingly close to the home from where he had gone missing just 32 hours earlier. Most prominent is whether D.C. police, who launched an intensive effort to find the lost child and were clearly pained by the outcome, could have done more.
“Nothing is making sense in all of this,” said one neighbor of the incongruities that surround Michael’s death. The boy, reported missing by his family on the morning of July 7 after he was seen wandering away from his Northeast home, was found dead at about 5:50 p.m. the next day on the floor of the back seat of a car parked less than a half block from his home. All of the car doors were locked. It’s not known how long he had been there over two hot summer days. It’s also unclear if he got in the car by himself or was killed and placed there. The cause of death has yet to be determined, but there were no signs of trauma and the body showed signs of decomposition.
The boy’s body was discovered by a detective, but what’s so mystifying and troubling is that at least four other officers — as well as members of the boy’s family and other volunteer searchers — had looked at the car earlier but saw nothing amiss. “How is it that they didn’t find that boy sooner” is the question The Post’s Peter Hermann said is echoing through the city.
It’s hard to think police didn’t take the search seriously given the resources — bloodhounds from Montgomery County, establishment of a critical command post, deployment of a helicopter — they expended in looking for Michael. But that makes it even more important for police to review their actions, determine if protocols need to be revised and provide a complete accounting.