Body of missing Shiprock toddler located by search teams
The Navajo Police Department coordinated the search
SHIPROCK — The search for a missing toddler in the area north of Shiprock has ended after search teams located the body of 21-month-old Kyron Kelewood, who was found on the morning of June 28.
The Navajo Police Department announced the location of Kelewood's body in a press release on the afternoon of June 28 and said that he was found around 11:15 a.m.
State, county and local law enforcement agencies, along with regional first responders, had been searching for the boy. He had been reported missing on June 27.
The Navajo Division of Public Safety and federal agencies are conducting an active investigation into the missing toddler. Navajo police were coordinating the search and rescue operation.
"We find strength and solace in the power of participation of our community and the commitment of all first responders as we bring closure to the family," Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco said in a press release.
The search for the boy was started on the afternoon of June 27.
The mother took Navajo Police officers to a spot about nine miles northeast of mile marker 95 off U.S. Highway 491 where her vehicle had gotten stuck on the night of June 26.
An adult male, infant minor and Kelewood were left at the vehicle.
The mother had reached a residence in Horseshoe Canyon on the afternoon of June 27 and an occupant of the house called police.
The infant minor was later located and transported to Northern Navajo Medical Center for treatment.
The adult male, who had no immediate relationship to the mother and children, was also found a short time later.
Teams search remote area
Navajo Police Deputy Chief Daryl Noon said in an interview June 28 that Kelewood's body was found more than two miles southwest of the vehicle.
The Navajo Nation Department of Criminal Investigations and the FBI are processing the scene and the case remains under investigation.
"These are the calls that we don't like to have and when we got the call yesterday, we obviously hoped for the best but as the day progressed it was looking like that wasn't going to happen," Noon said.
A field command center was set up near the location where the vehicle was found in a remote area surrounded by hills and plateaus.
The search effort began after the police department in Shiprock received the resident's call at about 1:30 p.m. on June 27.
The effort was scaled down during the night before ending at 2 a.m. on June 28, Noon said.
Search teams returned to the area after 6 a.m. on June 28.
"This is obviously not the results we were hoping for, but I am thankful that we found the child," Noon said in a debriefing shortly before noon on June 28 at the field command center.
He commended those who volunteered time and resources to help with the search, including employees from various tribal departments, other law enforcement agencies and Community Emergency Response Teams from nearby chapters.
"It's an unfortunate ending to this whole situation," Noon said.
Navajo Police Capt. Dempsey Harvey said the search area was approximately three square miles and they were in the process of setting up the western perimeter when the toddler's body was found.
Some family members were at the field command center but declined to comment.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer visited the mobile command unit parked next to U.S. Highway 491.
Both leaders expressed condolences to Kelewood's family and to the community during their comments.
"It breaks out hearts to know that we lost one of our beloved babies," Nez said then added families need to care for one another and be aware of their whereabouts.
Lizer said if it were possible, they would take away the pain felt by the family.
"If we could hug them, we'd hug them," he said.
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Reporter Joshua Kellogg contributed to this story.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.