WASHINGTON - Four police officers peered into the same tan car before a fifth officer finally spotted the body of 7-year-old Michael Kingsbury Monday evening.
But in the day since Michael's body was found investigators don't know how long he had been there, his cause of death or even whether any crime was committed.
Metropolitan police said at a news conference Tuesday that Kingsbury was found on the back floor of the locked car and that it was difficult to see him. An officer had to break a window with a flashlight to enter the vehicle that was parked in an alley about about 6 p.m. Monday, roughly 40 feet from where Michael was last spotted.
Four police officers had looked in the same car and had not seen anything. It is still unclear whether Kingsbury's body was in the vehicle the entire 30 hours he was missing, said Assistant Chief Peter Newsham.
Police say he had no obvious signs of trauma but his body had begun to decompose. Police are still waiting word on the child's official cause of death.
In the meantime, police continue to gather information and Newsham said police consider the case a death investigation, not a homicide investigation. However investigators have not ruled out whether foul play was involved in Michael's death.
The tan car was on parked on a neighboring property and had no vehicle tags on it, Newsham says.
"One of the things that we need to figure out is when exactly did the child get into the car," Newsham says. "It's too early to determine whether or not somebody missed something or not. Obviously, we'll look into all of that."
Michael was last seen Sunday around 9 a.m. in the area near West Virginia Avenue and Mount Olivet Road in Northeast.
Neighbors who assisted in the search efforts were shocked to find the boy in the car. Gaston McVea, who has lived in the neighborhood for 27 years and is the founder of Arts for Autism Foundation Inc., says searchers looked in and underneath cars and lifted canvases off of some vehicles.
"We took VIN numbers of the cars that we searched ... We looked underneath," McVea says. "I just can't imagine we missed it ... I missed it. And it doesn't feel good."
As part of the search, police officers had visited the homes of registered sex offenders and conducted interviews. Officers additionally went door-to-door and passed out fliers for the missing boy.
Before Michael's body had been found, his mother, Katrina, said he wouldn't go with anyone he didn't know.
She described her son, who was autistic, as a "happy, bubbly" child.
"When he gets happy, he starts skipping (and) singing," she said.
She later thanked those who helped look for her son.
D.C. Child and Family Services Agency had been working with the family as recently as this spring but the case was closed when the family's situation stabilized.
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WTOP's Thomas Warren and Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.
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