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Southern Indiana community pays respects to unknown boy found dead in suitcase

A memorial service for the boy was held Wednesday morning at the Weathers Funeral Home in Salem, Indiana.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, INDIANA, Ind. — As the mystery continues around the identity of a little boy found dead in a suitcase in the Washington County woods, the community is preparing to memorialize him.

The Washington County Sheriff's office has organized a service for the boy on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Weathers Funeral Home in Salem, and he'll be laid to rest just down the road in Crown Hill Cemetery.

"The community's kinda adopted this little boy as one of Washington County's sons, so I think we need this for closure and to be able to put this little boy to rest,” Washington County Sheriff's Department Chaplain Todd Murphy said.

The little boy was found dead stuffed inside a suitcase on the side of a road in Pekin, Indiana in April.

"He was not respected in life,” Murphy said. “We want to make sure that he's respected in death."

Mushroom hunter Jeff Meredith found the 5-year-old. It was a discovery that broke his heart and drove him to want to help identify him.

WHAS11 News talked to Meredith back in April.

"A name for this child would give him, to me, respect and his dignity back,” he said. “He deserves to have a name. We've got a name and we want our names put on out stones after we're gone and he deserves that.”

But for now, Murphy said the community will refer to the little boy as something special.

"We're going to call him angel,” Murphy said. “He's kinda become the unknown angel of Washington County.”

An angel adopted by the community, loved like their own.

Though the little boy's tombstone will not have a name, Murphy said the community will never forget him.

The only information Indiana State Police released about him is that he's Black, about four feet tall with a slim build and short haircut.

Last week, ISP released information on how he died. Sgt. Carey Huls said it was from electrolyte imbalance.

"Most likely due to gastroenteritis, which in layman's terms means vomiting and diarrhea, which most likely resulted in dehydration,” he said.

Huls said the toxicology report came back negative and there was no evidence of significant traumatic injuries.

While investigators continue to search for answers, Washington County seeks healing for the little boy they never knew.

"Those people who have donated funds just shows how loving this community is and how much they wanted to make sure this little boy is taken care of,” Murphy said.

If you know anything, or if you saw the suitcase in Southern Indiana, contact ISP at its designated tip line: (888) 437-6432

► Contact reporter Bobbi McSwine at BMcSwine@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter  

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