The search for Casey Lynn Hathaway has now drawn in the FBI and Marines, as freezing temperatures approach and the hunt for the missing 3-year-old grows more dire.
Hathaway was playing with relatives in his grandmother's backyard in North Carolina when he went missing on Wednesday, WYFF reported. The boy did not return back to the home with the other children, prompting a search that has drawn dozens of volunteers from across the community and now the help of the FBI, Marines, and NCIS.
Local officials said the search for the toddler, who has been missing for more than 24 hours, is growing more desperate as freezing temperatures are on the way for Thursday. Temperatures are expected to drop into the low 30s in the overnight hours after reaching the low 60s during the day. The boy was reportedly not dressed for cold weather at the time of his disappearance.
With the dangerous conditions approaching, officials are ramping up the search in the hopes of finding the boy alive.
"Casey is a small child," Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told reporters on Wednesday. "He's cold, he's hungry."
The search for Casey Lynn Hathway has expanded quickly in the day since he first went missing, with authorities using helicopters and drones, as well as K-9 units in the hopes of finding him alive. Divers have also targeted nearby ponds.
But they have run into complications as well. The search for the boy has grown more complicated because of the rural and rugged terrain near where he went missing, ABC News noted.
Police have not said if they suspect foul play in Hathaway's disappearance. They noted that his grandmother and others tried looking for the boy for 45 minutes before calling the police. They are now asking the public for any help they might be able to provide, including anything that might look suspicious. They are also asking neighbors to check their cars and storage sheds to see if the boy might have taken shelter there.
"No tip is insignificant," Sheriff Hughes said on Thursday.
The boy's disappearance has drawn national attention, with news outlets across the country picking up on the story and many people sharing information about him on social media in the hopes that someone might see him.Anyone with information on the disappearance of Casey Lynn Hathaway is asked to call the Craven County Sheriff's Office at 252-633-0498 or the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at 919-662-4500.