JACOBS LAKE — The worse fears of the community of Northern Arizona have been realized. The smiling 5-year-old boy who came up missing at Jacob Lake has been found deceased.
The body of Jerold Joseph Williams was found on August 10, 2015 around 4:30 pm by a group of volunteer searchers from Colorado City. The group was driving along Forest Service Road 240 when some boys who were in the back of the pickup saw the body of Jerold on the ground around 15-20 feet off the road.
Jerold’s body was found approximately 3.7 miles point-to-point from the place Jerold was last seen. By road it was approximately 8.6 miles from the place he was last seen.
Because Jerold was found close to the road and the road would have been a natural walking area for him compared to the very thick brush, it is believed that Jerold probably found his way to Forest Road 240 and followed it to Forest Road 241 in the direction away from the camp site and may have walked off into the forest to lay down to rest.
He was found fully clothed with no obvious external injuries, and there is was no evidence of foul play indicated at the scene. The weather had turned inclement early during the time he was missing. An autopsy was performed today and Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office preliminary findings appear to be accidental death due to environmental exposure. Based on the environmental conditions Jerold was exposed to it is unlikely he survived the first night.
The focus of the search area was based on information from data gathered from other searches (for example the Arizona Lost Persons Behavioral database and other resources), proven mathematical models, as well as a profile of the lost person including location and time last seen, mobility, activity level, and other behavior.
Jerold was found within what is known as the containment area of the search. This area is a concentric circle outside of the area of the main focus of the search efforts but within the search perimeter. Natural boundaries such as roads are often part of the containment area with the hope that the person will be found before leaving the containment. The main focus of ground search efforts had been some 21 square miles, which was a 2.1 radius from the point Jerold was last seen.
The search spanned 5 days and 4 nights with 1,000 or more people assisting. The support from the community was overwhelming. There were close to 900 people from the community who collectively volunteered thousands of hours of their time to the search efforts, not only in the field, but also by providing meals and other support. A great majority of these volunteers were from the community of Colorado City who gave their full support to the search efforts. In addition to the community volunteers, we are grateful to all of the state, local and federal organizations including the U.S. Air Force Rescue community which involved the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Air Force Rescue air crews, maintainers, and para-rescue. The Air Force Rescue crews were able to utilize advanced night optics to conduct overnight search operations. Many area businesses provided equipment and resources which was greatly appreciated. This was the largest spontaneous volunteer response the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has handled, and the cooperation of the community was greatly appreciated.
Personnel from Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Pima County Sheriff’s Office, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Coconino County CERT Teams, Arizona Wing Civil Air Patrol, Utah Wing Civil Air Patrol, Arizona Department of Public Safety, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, FBI, Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children participated in this search.