3-year-old child missing from grandma's backyard in North Carolina

The Craven County Sheriff's Office is still in search of a three-year-old boy who went missing on Tuesday. 

Casey Hathaway was playing at his grandmother's home in Ernul, North Carolina. According to WNCT, the grandmother was watching two other children who all went outside to play. 

Only two of the children subsequently returned to the house. According to Craven Country EMA assistance director Ira Whitford, Casey was last seen at around 1:45 p.m. 

He was wearing a blue coat and dark pants just before he disappeared. According to investigators, Casey is "3-feet tall, with strawberry blonde hair."  He weighs about 25 pounds and has brown eyes.

The family searched for about 45 minutes before they called 911. County Sheriff Chip Hughes said that the case is considered a missing child situation. While open to other possibilities, authorities do not suspect foul play. 

Currently, a 200-volunteers strong search team is perusing the area off Toler Road near Ernul. Authorities say Casey might have "wandered into thick woods behind the home." 

They worry that sinkholes and inadequate clothing could harm the child or cause him to get sick. They implored persons "living in the area to check storage sheds, vehicles, and their property for the child." 

In addition to the volunteers and the Craven County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, "N.C. State Highway Patrol, New Bern Police Department, Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office K9’s, NC Wildlife Resources, and the SBI" are all part of the search. 

They have so far made use of drones and helicopters in an attempt to search from every angle of where they believe Casey may be. 

A news conference was scheduled to be held this afternoon and conducted by Hughes. He spoke earlier on the matter.

He said: 

"It's a stressful time for the family and everybody involved. But I can tell you we are certainly doing our due diligence, spending a lot of time with them and just sorting through all the different stories."

He continued: 

"And as calls come in, and we've had a number of them about things they've heard in the woods, none of them have panned out yet. But every lead we are following and going straight to it."

He concluded: 

"We are not leaving here until we bring some closure to this family. And, hopefully, it will be a positive, end on a positive note."

Anyone with information should get in contact with the Craven County Sheriff's office as soon as possible.

We join in the hope that Casey is found alive and in good health very soon. 

Currently, over 88,000 persons remain missing in the US based on the FBI's National Crime Information Center Missing Person File. Of that figure, 36.5 percent are children under 18. 

The Amber Alert system is often a significant help in finding missing children. From 1997 to 2017, 897 children were found thanks to the system. 

Most recently, Jayme Closs was found after she had been missing for 88 days. The 13-year-old was wondering the streets in Wisconsin when a woman walking her dog recognized her.

Soon after, police were called and they later arrested 21-year-old Jake Patterson. He was charged with kidnapping as well as the murder of Closs' parents. 

Closs went to live with her relatives when doctors determined she was in good health. Her aunt shared pictures of the teenager smiling following her horrific ordeal. 

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