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Published July 04 2012

1 missing Wisconsin autistic boy found dead, second alive

STOUGHTON, Wis. — Two apparently unrelated searches for autistic boys in Wisconsin ended with opposite outcomes Wednesday as one was found dead in a Dane County retention pond and the other was discovered safe along the banks of the Mississippi River in Pierce County, authorities said.

The boys were both 5 years old, had limited communication skills and disappeared Tuesday, but there was no indication the disappearances, which played out in counties about 240 miles apart, were linked.

Jeremiah Conn of Madison went missing from the Stoughton home that he and his family were visiting. A 911 caller reported seeing him around the unfenced pond, and police found his shoes near the edge of the water, police Sgt. Rick Helstad said.

Meanwhile, another person flagged down officers to report Jeremiah's disappearance. While rescue officials began draining and searching the murky pond, almost 100 volunteers joined authorities in scouring the area block by block, Helstad said.

Ultimately, Jeremiah's body was found in the pond. His death was ruled an accidental drowning.

“It's a tragic event, but at this point, we don't suspect foul play,” police Chief Greg Leck said. “We believe at this point it's just a simple tragedy.”

Similar heartbreak was averted in Pierce County, where hundreds of searchers and volunteers had scrambled to locate Scott Meyer after he went missing from his Prescott home.

He was found Wednesday morning by a volunteer whose golden retriever led him to where the boy was whimpering under a tree. Meyer was dehydrated, sunburned and had a few bug bites, but he was otherwise healthy and in good condition.