Maine police ask Navy help to ID boy found dead

By DAVID SHARP | May 17, 2011 | 4:58 PM EDT

A memorial is seen Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in South Berwick, Maine near where the body of an unidentified boy was found Saturday. Police have classified the death as suspicious. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

ALFRED, Maine (AP) — Maine State Police have enlisted the help of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as they try to identify a young boy found dead on the side of a back road near the Maine-New Hampshire border, officials said Tuesday.

During a briefing in Alfred, State Police Lt. Brian McDonough said a witness who saw a dark blue truck near where the body was found Saturday in South Berwick noticed some type of naval insignia near the license plate. The witness believes the truck was being driven by a woman who was the only occupant, McDonough said.

Police gave no indication they were any closer to identifying the child.

NCIS investigators are going to military installations and naval reserve centers in the region, McDonough said.

"It's more intuition than anything. But we're really starting to wonder if the individual whose was involved with the truck was a member of the military," McDonough said.

Investigators theorize that if the boy belonged to a transient, military family, he was less likely to be known to neighbors, which could explain why he has not been reported missing, McDonough said.

Investigators have fielded more than 200 tips since the boy's body was found on Saturday and they've worked their way through half of them.

None of the tips had panned out as of late Tuesday afternoon. Police were also conducting DNA tests on the boy's body in the event they may be helpful in tracking down family members.

Also Tuesday, police released a detailed photo of the boy's "Lightning McQueen" sneakers in the hopes they might jog someone's memory and announced they'd notified Interpol to ensure Canadian law enforcement agencies were in the loop.

The boy is believed to be between 4 and 6 years old. Police have labeled his death suspicious, but the cause has not been released.

The lack of a missing persons report on the boy is extremely unusual, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Such cases happen only about once a year across the country, said the center's Ernie Allen.

The tips have been pouring in since police released a computer-generated image of the boy on Sunday, a day after his body was discovered by a local resident.

Investigators believe the boy was placed alongside a dirt road nine to 10 hours before the body was discovered around 5 p.m. Saturday.

The wooded location where the body was found wrapped in a blanket is now a memorial, with flowers, teddy bears and other items left as a remembrance to the boy. Local residents planned a candlelight vigil in the boy's honor Tuesday night.