On a warm evening in April of 2018, a young boy named Kaydon disappeared into thin air, literally. For a second, he could be seen outside playing with the family dog, and not long after, he was gone from the face of the earth. What may have happened to the young boy? What did the family and the authorities face once they finally found the boy? Keep reading to find out.
Kaydon lived in a small community called “Top of the World” in Blount County, Tennessee, along with his family. Kaydon’s parents allowed him to play alone outside as long as he keeps his promise that he would not wander far away from home without his parent’s permission. But on Monday, April 23rd, 2018, things went awry as the young boy did not come home despite being told to be back home at night.
He Didn’t Come Home
Kaydon’s parents were worried sick as their son usually comes home by 6 p.m. The boy’s parents were certain that the kid was enjoying his time outside like he always does, but as night came, it was not fun and games for Kaydon’s parents anymore. So where did the young boy even go? And more importantly, why didn’t Kaydon go home like he usually does? Was he just playing games on his parents?
A Good Boy
Kaydon is described to be a good and cheerful little boy who loved going outdoors especially whenever he plays with his pets, specifically, his black and white terrier named Chula. Just like every other kid who are at the age of six, Kaydon is also up for a bit of mischief as well. It may even be possible that the little boy was just playing a prank on his parents.
Not Taking A Risk
At first, the little kid’s parents believed that Kaydon was probably hiding somewhere around the house, but as they realized that their little boy is not home, the parents immediately alerted Blount County Sheriff, James Lee Berrong. Because they lived in a small town, everyone in the place knew of each other.
The little kid’s parents were not going to take any chance. With every second passing by, the night becomes darker and colder, they knew that their son did not have a coat with him. It is without a doubt a parent’s worst nightmare to have their beloved child go missing.
A Responsible Boy
Was the boy with his friends? His parents could only hope. They had a hunch that maybe Kaydon lost track of time or probably lost his way home. However, the boy’s parents noted that Kaydon is a very responsible kid which made them believe that none of these scenarios were accurate.
A Missing Child
It is only normal for parents to want to protect their child, which is why whenever this instinct gets tested, the situation becomes frightening for a parent. Just like every other parent, the Leach couple is not an exception to this.
The two of them had no idea why their beloved child suddenly disappeared. All they wanted was to find their kid and bring him back home safe and sound. This made the parents wish that they never let Kaydon to play alone outside in the first place.
Bad Gut Feeling
Something weird was happening and although they were not aware of it yet, the boy’s parents already a gut feeling as to what it may be. Where is Kaydon? Is he alright? Would they ever find him? And more importantly, what led him to stray away from home?
Nothing To Do
A lot of questions were running through the minds of Kaydon’s parents. The boy’s parents did their best to be optimistic but as their worry grows, they could not help but keep on imagining the worst possible scenario. Kaydon was in a bad spot and it feels bad that his parents are not able to anything to be able to help him. Where could have the young boy went to?
No Time to Lose
The authorities knew that time is of the essence, which is why the County Sheriff immediately made sure to tell everyone about the missing boy and enlisted help. He grouped everyone he could possibly find in a matter of minutes.
24 Hour Wait
Most of the time, a 24 hour window should have elapsed before anyone is allowed to file for a missing person alert, however, seeing that everyone in the community knew each other and Kaydon was loved by everyone, everyone immediately got to work in helping find the lost kid.
Trying To Be Optimistic
The parents were heavily worried that their child may have been lost and ended up somewhere far. As the night grew colder, the parents became even more worried as the kid did not have any coat with him to help him keep warm. The place they live in is a cool area, and because their son is thin, it is easy for the boy to be cold at the night.
Some Relief For The Family
The Sheriff did not want to think of the worst scenario just yet, which is why he got to work right away and helped comfort the Leach family by doing his best to look for their missing son. The Sheriff certainly helped ease the family’s worries even for just a little bit.
The Missing Boy’s Profile
An endangered child alert was released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 7 p.m. that evening. The alert informed the people about the missing boy and a brief description of Kaydon Leach and how he looked like according to the Sheriff’s office.
The alert made the community want to help find the boy, noting that the young kid was last seen at around 6 p.m. Everyone worked together to find the missing boy and finally bring him back to his worried family.
Kaydon Leach was described to be a 4 feet tall kid that weighs 60 pounds (or 27 kg), with blue eyes and brown hair. The young kid was also noted to be wearing a black T-shirt, gray sweatpants, and slip-on shoes at the time of his disappearance. The Sheriff made sure to relay this information to help everyone find Kaydon and reunite him from his family so that they would be okay.
The local Sheriff’s department carried out the search and rescue operation and the nearby McGhee Tyson Airbase dispatched a military Blackhawk helicopter to aid the rescuers in finding the little boy. The search started as soon as James Lee Berrong received a call from the Leach family.
Aside from the military helicopter used to aid in finding the young boy, a rescue team of almost a hundred first responders conducted a ground operation on over 2,000 acres of remote mountainous terrain. The joint forces will definitely help in finding the missing kid a lot sooner.
The question still stands. Will they be able to find the missing kid before dark? A lot of people helped to look for Kaydon Leach, and as soon as the neighbors heard of the fuss, they immediately gave their help as they too tried to find the young boy.
Marian O’Briant, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said to WVLT News that the ground search teams that they have dispatched, alongside the military forces, would do their best to look for the kid throughout the night if that is what it will take to locate the boy’s whereabouts.
A lot of different teams such as the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Information), FBI, Blount County Sheriff’s Department, Blount County Search and Rescue Team, Blount County Fire Department, and Blount County Chief Deputy Jeff French, all carried out grid searches in hopes of finding the missing kid.
A Community Comes Together
As soon as the news about Kaydon Leach’s disappearance broke out, the local community also extended their help. An Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (Otherwise known as IPAWS) message was broadcasted a few hours later to help inform more people about the missing child.
Keeping A Close Eye And Ear
Everyone was updated and informed about any updates regarding the missing boy thanks to the efforts of the Blount County Emergency Services. A lot of people kept a close eye and ear in order to keep up with whatever the latest findings would be broadcasted.
A Caring Community
As soon as the local community members saw the message, they knew that something had to be done as a child’s life was on the line. Their children and grandchildren came to mind, and the situation definitely affected them in one way or another.
Aside from the message that was being broadcasted by the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, the Blount County community also caught up to the news of what was happening thanks to the smartphone app called “Next Door”. An app that provides a somewhat private social network for a neighborhood.
There were some people who were not able to actively help with the search, but a lot of them stuck around and did whatever they can in order to help the Leach family. When interviewed by the WVLT news, a local search volunteer stated their community is a very tight one, and because everyone is close to one another, they would always try to help everyone. This community is certainly a loving one.
The woman added that she received a phone call about what was happening, she was coming up the mountain from work and just went right away and did everything that she can to help aid the search for the missing boy.
A Helping Hand
A resident in the neighborhood named Megan Kessler heard of the fuss about the little boy’s disappearance, which is why she decided to have an initiative in helping the search and rescue emergency and volunteer teams by giving them food and water.
When interviewed by WVLT News, Megan Kessler told them that they knew that it was going to be a long night, which is why she brought the rescue teams coffee, chili, or whatever they needed. Since the teams would not let them search, they wanted to make sure that they could supply what the teams needed. Certainly a selfless act by a concerned neighbor who wanted to do whatever she could to help in looking for the kid.
A Viral Post
Everyone did their best to help spread the news and inform everyone of the missing kid. the Tennessee Endangered Child Alert made a Facebook post that contained a photo of Kaydon Leach along with a description of the child and the surrounding circumstance in case more people wanted to help look for Kaydon. The post was also shared by WBIR Channel 10 which definitely helped in informing a lot of people.
The Power Of Media
As soon as the post was updated with even more information regarding the missing boy, the post was shared over 2,000 times and garnered over 350 reactions. Everyone in the community was definitely doing their best to help out Kaydon’s parents as the news broke out like wildfire.
Time Was Running Out
Despite the everyone’s hard work, the search operation done by the different rescue teams and various local volunteers seemed to be in vain as they were unable to locate Kaydon when it got dark and cold. Will they still be able to find the missing kid?
Getting More Worried
They knew that they were running out of time and everyone were concerned of the chance of Kaydon suffering from a respiratory infection if they would not be able to find the missing boy soon. They knew they had to hurry and continue doing their best to look for the kid.
An Urgent Search
Everyone knew that the kid was not wearing clothes that could provide enough warmth, and for someone as young as Kaydon, the night’s cold could be very fatal for him. This made the search much more urgent as a lot of people started work harder to find the kid as they knew that all of their efforts would be going to waste if they would not be able to find Kaydon in time.
The Search Continues
The search for little Kaydon carried on for the following hours. The search teams focused on the area covering a half-mile radius of the home of the young boy. The team had to way for the sun to rise again so that they could expand the search once more into the surrounding mountainous and rural area.
They Hoped He Was Okay
The young boy’s parents were terribly worried for their young son. They were scared, nervous, and even guilty for letting their lovely boy to play alone outside. It took a little more time, but they eventually found out that their beloved kid was fine and was not alone. But where did they find the boy? Who was with the boy during the time that he was being searched for by everyone?
A Dedicated And Close-Knit Community
The Blount County Community certainly proved how tied together everyone in their community is. A lot of people stayed up all night to provide snacks and water to the rescue teams in order to help ease their problems even for just a little bit. It was the community’s way of helping out the first responders who worked hard to search for the missing boy, and they were all very thankful for them.
They Were Determined To Find Him
They were aware that Kaydon was out there somewhere, they were sure that he would not be able to stray away very far, it was only a matter of staying dedicated and focused, never giving up on their mission until the lost boy was found and safely brought back to his parent’s embrace. The rescue teams were definitely giving it all that they got to help the Leach family find their son.
The Daylight Comes
As daybreak came, the search for Kaydon Leach became a little less difficult. While the light did not make the task drastically easier than the night, it definitely helped them as they did not give up in looking for the kid who they hoped to find safe and sound.
The daylight helped give the search crew come up with more ideas as to where they could look around for Kaydon. It was time to resume work and look for the lost kid as fast as they could. The boy’s parents were worried sick that their poor kid might be alone, scared, and starving, which is why everybody prayed for the poor boy’s safety, wishing that he is doing fine wherever he may be.
No Stone Left Unturned
The search crews continued their work to look for the missing kid. One of the locations that they decided to look at would be the lake since they suspected that the poor kid may have fallen in or drowned, thankfully they did not find him drowned in the lake. As the ground search continued, the military Blackhawk helicopter continued its search from the air as well. How long would it take to finally find Kaydon?
Covering All Grounds
After the search teams look at the lake, they immediately went to look on the mountainsides and in several abandoned buildings as they suspected that the young boy may have entered one of the abandoned buildings to protect himself from the cold of the night. Sadly, they were also unable to find the young boy in there. They were starting to be a bit worried that Kaydon Leach would be impossible to find now.
The morning hours passed by and there was still no sign of Kaydon Leach. His parents tried to think of where he could have gone to, or if there was something more sinister that could have happened, the latter of which was extremely rare in their community.
His Parents Didn’t Understand
To the boy’s parents, they simply could not comprehend why their kid suddenly disappeared as Kaydon was well aware of his curfew and how far he was allowed to venture out in the area. They knew deep inside that something clearly was not right as they could not imagine what may have happened. Where could the boy possibly be? And more importantly, why was he unable to get back home in time for his curfew?
Thinking Outside The Box
In an attempt to guess where the young Kaydon Leach could be, they decided to try and think like how a child at the age of six would. This made them think of areas where a kid would find it fascinating to play. They were definitely thinking outside of the box with this one as they started to search in places and areas that they would not have otherwise considered.
As they started to look once again with new ideas, they looked into abandoned buildings once more and areas deep in the woods. They were not aware of it yet, but they were actually making progress in finding the missing Kaydon. They felt like they may finally be onto something.
The search crew scoured the entire area of the woods near the community. For them, if the missing Kaydon Leach was not there, then it would be impossible for them to find him anymore as they would not have any idea as to where the boy could have gone.
A Startling Noise
As the afternoon wore on, the volunteers knew that they had to continue searching before night fell again. The clock was ticking, but suddenly, they heard a noise that was coming from the woods which piqued their interest.