Body Of Missing Autistic Boy Found

May 19, 2013

The body of a  missing 7-year old autistic boy was  located in the water off Perdido Key Sunday afternoon.

“A citizen in Perdido Key observed him in the water washing toward shore. An immediate response has determined that he succumbed to drowning. There are no indications of foul play; however the standard investigative and medical examiners protocols will apply,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. “We ask for the community and nation’s prayers for this family in mourning and our thanks are again extended to all law enforcement, military, state and federal agencies as well as the hundreds of volunteers who responded to Owen’s call.”

Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of  volunteers joined multiple law enforcement agencies and search and rescue teams on Perdido Key looking for Owen Elliot Black.

He was last seen Friday afternoon on Perdido Key Drive in the vicinity of the Needle Rush condos. Black was on vacation with his mother, but wandered away on his own. Authorities had hoped that Black was simply hiding, avoiding strangers like he was taught.

Saturday’s major search ended at dark, but a small group searched into the night, riding through neighborhoods and with flashlights. The full scale land, air and sea search began again at daybreak Sunday.

Pictured below: Escambia Search and Rescue K-9 “Neko” searches from boat near Perdido Key. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.


39 Responses to “Body Of Missing Autistic Boy Found”

  1. Deborah on May 27th, 2013 12:00 pm

    I am a parent of a young adult with autism. She was diagnosed at 8 years old and had a near-drowning incident when she was 6 because, as I learned years later, children with autism are drawn to water, as it calms their overstimulated sensory systems. I now also serve as a volunteer board member and special education advocate for families facing autism in my community. Although drowning is a common cause of death for children with autism, I would still feel better if an autopsy was performed to confirm cause of death. Please understand…there are many bad people in this world and a child with a disability many times becomes a target for such people. Regardless of the outcome, the parents are not to blame. Children with autism and other disabilities present with challenges that cannot be understood by other parents…please do not judge…just offer the support and compassion that this family needs right now in their time of grief.

  2. Mississippimom on May 21st, 2013 10:55 am

    do not dare point fingers at this mother. do not dare, unless you have an autistic like him and know the heroic lengths required to keep them safe. I have a little boy the same age, non verbal, with almost no cognitive ability . . but a high iq and very active. . .the result? No sense of danger whatsoever, cannot understand WHY he cannot just wander off on his own. He will get into strange cars, go with strangers, jump into water (even though he cannot swim) and cannot be made to understand even to stay out of the street. It’s terrifying to keep such a child safe on a daily basis. .. every such parent live daily with the terror they will escape. Our house has window locks with keys (that must be hidden) double sided deadbolts (that also must be hidden), gates with locks (although now he’s learned to climb the fence). You have NO IDEA what it takes just to protect such a child daily unless you’ve been there, so if you haven’t. .. I suggest you thank God for your normal children who can understand . . .and stop judging others.

  3. Lisa on May 20th, 2013 7:52 pm

    My child doesn’t have autism, so I will say mine a toddler could unlock our doors & go out in dark by herself, so they are quick & no one should judge unless you know for a fact that they were in wrong. Am I a bad mother, no is any one a bad mother for doing laundry & find out their kid went out the door, no. If those of you have never had a child to wander, bless you & I truly mean that.

  4. Penny Parker on May 20th, 2013 6:35 pm

    I am so very sorry for your loss….I cant imagine what the family especially the Mom is going through ! Love and Prayers to all of you…and Rest in Peace little one…God Bless.

  5. Diane on May 20th, 2013 3:40 pm

    @Ashleigh….you obviously do not have a clue about Autism! Nor do you probably have children. That was a mean spirited comment….shame on you!

    We have a child in our family with Autism, His parents and step parents went to search for Owen Black Sat. night. We were all so saddened by the news he was found dead. I want to send our condolences to the family and friends of Owen. Words cannot express the feelng of losing a child! Please Lord, wrap you arms around this family and give them the strength they need to get thorugh this, especially his Mother. We know he is in Heaven with you, Lord, so let him be a comfort to his Mother, new extended family and all who love him. Amen!

  6. Yoli R on May 20th, 2013 1:57 pm

    As a Parent of a child with autism I know the feeling of constantly being on edge, always watching our child, but still being in constant fear he will wander again. Our highly intelligent child with autism is smart enough to navigate most child resistant barriers. Yet He often doesn’t answer to or tell someone his name. He doesn’t have a sense of danger and is sooooooo fast, blink & He’s gone. The recent stories scare me even more & my heart breaks for the families losing their Prescious angels & I’m doubly saddened by the people making hateful comments directed at his parents. Especially being on vacations which is what happened to two families with missing autistic children …..tears constantly falling Love, Peace, & Light to All the Families

  7. MATT on May 20th, 2013 12:03 pm

    No one is being negative or saying the parents are at fault at all in this, but i do agree with sandy. I will be glad to hear the autopsy results. lets face it we live in a world full of evil bad people who prey on children and will think nothing of hurting a child. i was out in perdido key searching for this boy hoping for a happy ending and i can tell you if needed i will also go back to perdido key and help hunt for the monster that hurt him if the autopsy determines foul play.

  8. JRoAnne B on May 20th, 2013 7:09 am

    Praying for the family. I know Jesus was with him at the end so that he wasn’t afraid. Picturing him in the arms of our Lord brings peace and joy! It helped me when my newborn son died. Sending a band of angels to bring the family and friends courage, strength, peace and comfort.

  9. Dixie Chick on May 19th, 2013 11:13 pm

    Ashleigh and Sandy,
    Please keep your negative comments to yourself. This family is grieving and does not need to hear stuff like that from someone who has no clue what it is like to care for ausitic kids. Accidents happen. Mom could have go to the bathroom and he disappeared in 2 minutes. Think before you speak., Say to yourself….would I want someone to say this if this happened to me?

  10. football mom on May 19th, 2013 10:50 pm

    Prayers go to the parents and family of this little boy. With 3 boys of my own who are not autistic, I do know how easy it is to take ur eyes off for a second. I have sent prayers of thanks many times. I also pray u will find peace.

  11. Robert S. on May 19th, 2013 10:29 pm

    TEARS…….Please no finger-pointing or speculations, this young boy did what any child would do and that’s be drawn to the beauty and power of the Gulf. He, like many other children — yours, mine — along with adults did not ever realize the danger. My Heart goes out to the parents and to the family and all the loved ones and especially to our Wonderful Supporting Neighbors who turned out to look for him. Rest easy…….Hugs.

  12. anne on May 19th, 2013 10:08 pm

    as the mother of a daughter with autism this is always on my mind, so sad, praying for the family of this sweet boy

  13. pat on May 19th, 2013 9:33 pm

    Praying for the family

  14. Roll Tide on May 19th, 2013 8:32 pm

    Thoughts and prayers going out tonight to Owen’s family. Also thank you to the volunteers that helped search for Owen. It was awfully hot today but yet there were so many folks looking for him. They will all need our prayers. RIP lil man God will take care of you and the family you left behind.

  15. Victor on May 19th, 2013 7:54 pm

    Easy there Ashleigh. As the father of a 10 year old boy with autism, I know very well how quickly and quietly a child can wander off unnoticed… has happened to me several times. Unfortunately, an autistic child is usually unaware of the dangers in their surroundings. I hope his mother can find peace.

  16. Tammy on May 19th, 2013 6:41 pm

    This is awful. My thoughts and prayers
    are with the family

  17. CD on May 19th, 2013 6:40 pm

    A terrible tragedy! Prayers for the family and friends of this child!

  18. Sunshine Barcelona on May 19th, 2013 6:21 pm

    So sorry for Julia, Brandon & Family. Prayers being sent. May God be with you all.

  19. Vickie Cross on May 19th, 2013 6:14 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of this sweet little man. God will help you through this.

  20. DIANNE on May 19th, 2013 5:57 pm


  21. Renee on May 19th, 2013 5:23 pm

    Oh my goodness!! I am so sorry for this family and there loss. There is nothing more heart wrenching than loosing your child. Many prayers to you all !!

  22. Susie white on May 19th, 2013 5:19 pm

    So sorry for the family & their loss!

  23. Sandy on May 19th, 2013 4:43 pm

    how does the sheriff know “no foul play” until an autopsy is done??? Shouldn’t he wait for that before making that statement???

  24. Willene & Preston Bryan on May 19th, 2013 4:38 pm

    Praying for this little boy’s family. May you feel the comfort of our dear Lord. So sorry for your lost.

  25. Carl & Sylvia on May 19th, 2013 4:32 pm

    My love and prayers go out to the family and friends of this beautiful little boy. May God give you peace and comfort in the days ahead.

  26. mee on May 19th, 2013 4:30 pm

    Soo sad someone up stairs needed him more than we all did I hope the family finds the strength to get through this hard time may God be with you and the people who searched for him

  27. Amanda Gifford on May 19th, 2013 4:30 pm

    My heart is broken :( god bless this family and their sweet baby! God bless all the people that came out and searched for this angel! :(

  28. Tracy Smith on May 19th, 2013 4:12 pm

    My prayers and my heart goes out to this family. May God hold you in your time of grief and assure you of his Love.

  29. ashleigh on May 19th, 2013 3:52 pm

    This is so sad. Why wasn’t he being watched more closely to prevent being able to wander off alone?

  30. Amalaya on May 19th, 2013 3:19 pm

    My prayers go out for the family.

  31. brooklyn on May 19th, 2013 2:53 pm

    I’m sorry for the lost. Prayerrs go out to his family. Rest in place babyboy!


  32. Tiawan Michelle Haney on May 19th, 2013 2:48 pm

    I am so sorry for these parents….we will keep them in our prayers

  33. AL on May 19th, 2013 2:48 pm

    So sad….. I was hoping and praying for the best.

  34. Frank on May 19th, 2013 2:45 pm

    Our Prayers go out to this family…

  35. Brandie on May 19th, 2013 8:40 am

    @me yes the public is aloud in the search for Owen, sign up is at the Happy Harbor in OBA the community is truly coming together in the search efforts for this child donations are also appreciated, water snacks ect.prayers to this child and his family

  36. Regina Gohagan on May 19th, 2013 8:29 am

    My prayer is that he will be located safe and sound, reunited with his mother and family. Thanks to all those who are helping with the search and may God give you strength to continue until little Owen is found.

  37. mee on May 19th, 2013 8:24 am

    Please did Lord help them find this baby safe and bring him home to his family in Jesus name I pray Amen I hope and pray tney find him willam are the public aloud to help search or do u know??

  38. Robert S. on May 19th, 2013 8:09 am

    Hope this little guy is found soon and safe.
    Hope the missing kayaker is found safe, his dog too.
    Thoughts & prayers for both and their families and loved ones.

  39. Tonya on May 19th, 2013 6:55 am

    Praying this precious little boy is found safe.

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