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Forager who found boy's body in southern Indiana can't look at the spot where he found him

Jeff Meredith's discovery haunts him. Finding a boy's body was traumatic. But, it's what he hasn't found that keeps him from laying the memory to rest.

PEKIN, Ind. — Jeff Meredith calls the woods of Washington County "heaven." He sits on his front porch for hours, every day, and takes in a field of wildflowers.

On April 16, he found something out of place.

It was a Saturday, he was out mushroom hunting later than normal, and he wasn't sure why. 

"I decided to cross over [the road] and mushroom hunt on this side here," he said. Meredith pointed to the other side of the road while keeping his gaze fixed, away from it. 

It's that spot, about 80 feet off the road, that looms in his memory. 

There was a suitcase, bright blue, yellow and red, sitting where it didn't belong.

Credit: Alyssa Newton - WHAS11 News

Meredith said he saw the suitcase and immediately thought to call the police. But, he hesitated. He thought if they came all the way out there and it turned out to just be a suitcase he'd feel like a fool. 

So, he opened it.

Inside, he found the body of a boy. "When I first saw that little feller, immediately, I felt that he was telling me 'Help me, I need help,'" he said.

As we stood with Meredith, nearly two weeks later, near the spot where he found that boy, he lost his balance. 

He stumbled, let out a gasp, then steadied himself. 

"It bothers me," he said. "But, it ain't about me. It's about that little boy that they threw away like he was a piece of trash. That's what bothers me more than anything in the world because I've got five grandbabies." 

Meredith said at least three of his grandchildren are around five years old. The age police believe this boy was when he died. 

Jeff Meredith is a proud grandfather. He showed us a video of his newest grandchild, "number five." 

In the video, he smiles as he looks down at a baby boy with closed eyes. He asked, "What color eyes does he got?" Someone in the video responds, "Blue."

"Uh oh, blue-eyed boy," He said, laughing with the baby in his arms. 

When he spoke about his grandkids, and how he cared for children who went on to raise their own, it was hard to talk about much else. 

"That's the blessing of life, to watch them develop into the little human beings that they will be later on," he said.

One little human will never get to be more. Meredith is learning he can't control that but hopes to convince someone to come forward, with information on the death and most importantly - a name.

"He deserves to have a name," Meredith said. "Just like you and I, we've got a name and we want a name put on our stones when we are gone. And he deserves that." 

He paused, shifted focus, looked directly into the camera, and pleaded, "If anybody out there knows anything, please come forward. Because that 5-year-old boy needs you now more than ever to give him his dignity back to him."

Indiana State Police have created a national tip line in hopes of getting more information on the case.

That number is 1-888-437-6432 and it can be used from anywhere in the United States.

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