Body Found in Hunt for Missing Boy

Boise boyCourtesy Boise Police Department

A body pulled from a canal south of Boise, Idaho, today matches the description of little Robert Manwill, the 8-year-old boy with an impish grin who disappeared July 24, police said.

Boise Police Department Deputy Chief Jim Kerns said they will not have a positive identification until an autopsy is performed Tuesday, but confirmed the body matches the size and age of Robert.

Someone walking by the New York Canal in Kuna, in Ada County, saw the body of a boy floating in the water and called police, Kerns said. One of the first officers on the scene jumped into the water and pulled out the body, he said.

"Robert's family, who has been incredibly strong throughout this entire ordeal, has been notified that a body has been found," Kerns said, adding that the boy's family has requested privacy.

"A missing child is every family's nightmare," Kerns said.

The discovery of the body comes after days of intense searching for the boy. Several police agencies spent the weekend digging up the backyard of a home in Ada County that police told ABC News affiliate KIVI-TV in Boise is rented by people who know the boyfriend of Robert's mother.

Police declined to say what was found to lead them to the backyard, saying only that they were following multiple leads and searching multiple locations looking for the boy.

On Friday, police said they feared Robert may have been the "victim of a tragic event" but said that with the help of the FBI they had found evidence they hoped would bring them closer to finding out what happened to the boy.

Kerns said that evidence was discovered in a search Thursday night of the home of the boy's mother, Melissa Scott Jenkins.

"The evidence we've uncovered shows there are suspicious circumstances regarding Robert's disappearance," Kerns said. "Robert may be injured."

Jenkins is divorced from Robert's father, Charles Manwill. The father has custody of the boy, who was on an overnight visit to his mother when he disappeared.

Missing Boy Search Among Largest in Boise History

Since Robert's disappearance, pictures of the little boy have been plastered all over Boise and volunteers have mobilized by the hundreds.

The disappearance has touched off what police say is among the largest searches in the city's history. Everyone is being scrutinized, they said, including the boy's own family, which has a seemingly violent history.

His parents haven't said much of anything to the public. Jenkins has two other children and lives with a boyfriend.

Court documents show that Jenkins and her boyfriend Daniel Ehrlick were taken to court by the state for child support relating to an unnamed child in foster care.

Jenkins is on probation after being charged with felony injury to a child, a charge the Idaho Statesman reported came after she fractured the skull of Robert's infant half-brother, who was removed by the state.

The paper also reported this week that Ehrlick has served time in prison and been convicted of battery and burglary. According to the Statesman, Ehrlick is banned from spending time alone with Robert's half-sister.

Police have kept mum so far on the family's legal troubles and their involvement with the search for Robert.

"The previous family history and the connection to Robert's case, if any, is ... part of the investigation," Boise Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower told last week.

Robert's aunt, Trisha Burrill has been acting as the family's spokeswoman. She told ABC's Boise affiliate KIVI that the family's troubled history should not be a focus for police or the media.

"We do not know why people think any of this matters," she said. "We are asking everyone to stay focused on our target on hand and that's to bring Robert home."

KIVI reported today that Boise police spent hours at Jenkins' home Thursday, towing the family's car and leaving with bags of evidence.

Robert was reported missing shortly after 10 p.m. July 24. He was last seen wearing a faded blue T-shirt with a Superman design, blue jeans and dark tennis shoes.

Sex Offenders, Apartment Complex Checked During Search

Hightower told that about 140 registered sex offenders live within a two-mile radius of Robert's home in a working-class neighborhood of the city and that each one has been visited.

"Some of them have been checked and rechecked and rechecked," she said.