‘We were hoping for the best:’ Body of missing 4-year-old boy believed found in pond in North Carolina

LAURINBURG, NC -- Investigators believe they’ve discovered the body of 4-year-old Raul Gonzalez Johnson in a pond, according to Shelley Lynch with Public Affairs Office for the FBI Charlotte Division.

Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said that authorities believe the death is accidental.

“We were hoping for the best and that is not what happened today,” Kersey said.

Kersey said he met the victim at the sheriff’s office in the past and even held him at one point. He described him as timid, sweet and loved life.

The Scotland County Medical Examiner’s Office must still confirm the identity and cause of death. The victim’s family has been notified.

Johnson was last seen on Village Drive walking toward Crestline Road in Laurinburg, prompting a state-wide Amber Alert on Wednesday.

His mother says his grandfather was watching him when the boy walked next door to visit one of his neighbors.

The body was found in a pond off Peabridge Road.

More than a dozen ground search teams combed the area and authorities are working to drain a pond near the area where Raul was last seen.

The sheriff said this is the first time under his leadership they have had a search of this magnitude in Scotland County.