LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Saturday, April 16, a forager in rural Washington County discovered a suitcase about 80 feet off the road. Inside, he found the body of a young boy.
Since that fateful spring day, his story has made national headlines and the search for the child's identity has spread across the world.
In Salem, Indiana, the boy's story is personal.
Neighbors, faith leaders and law enforcement officers have mourned his death together as they push for answers. Many of them say the little boy is one of them now.
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On Tuesday, a small group gathered at Crown Hill Cemetery in Salem to bury the boy. The first officers to respond when the boy was found acted as pallbearers.
They were joined by Jeff Meredith, the mushroom hunter who found the young boy's body. Meredith told WHAS11 he will not rest until the boy has a name.
In the meantime, they're calling the child, "Angel."
"We do not want to give him a name, he has a name," Yvonne Casey said outside of a service Wednesday at Weather's Funeral Home.
Her shirt bore a painting of a black boy with wings and read, "Washington County's Unknown Angel." They were sold by a local print shop as part of a fundraiser for the service and burial.
Weather's Funeral Home said the headstone was paid for by the City of Salem. The stone is inscribed with the words: "In loving memory of a beloved little boy known but to God."
At the service, Washington County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Matt Hein shared scripture and reflected on how "Angel" has impacted the county.
"Look at what Angel has done to our community," Hein said. "We never knew him in life, but he has drawn us together with love and kindness."
Police continue search for boy's identity
Police are still looking for information about this young boy.
Detectives have looked into known missing children cases, and are aware of details surrounding the suitcase.
The child is described by police as a 5-year-old African American male, about four feet tall with a slim build and short haircut.
If you know of a missing boy matching this child's description, who has not been entered in a national database, or if you have seen a Las Vegas suitcase (pictured above) in southern Indiana in early April, please call 1-888-437-6432.
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