A Florida family is seeking answers after a 14-year-old boy was found dead in a retention pond days after he failed to return home the last day of school before the holiday break.
Family members and friends of Vensly Maxime gathered Wednesday night for a march outside the Palm Beach County middle school the teen attended. He didn't return home from Crestwood Middle School on Dec. 22, and his body was found in a nearby retention pond on Christmas Day.
“How did he get into the water?” the teen's aunt, Louisena Hercule, asked the Palm Beach Post on Wednesday night. “This story, something is missing. We want the truth. We want to make sure it does not happen to another kid.”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said in a Dec. 28 statement that an investigation was continuing but that detectives didn't suspect foul play. Preliminary findings showed the teen didn't drown.
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The sheriff's office told the newspaper Thursday that officials are awaiting a toxicology report from the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office.
But many of those attending the march Wednesday question that conclusion. The family told the newspaper that the boy had no known medical concerns, and they described him as healthy with no known medical concerns.
The sheriff's office said the teen met with a friend after school Dec. 22. The friend later told investigators that the boy complained of feeling ill, so they started walking home. But, according to the friend, the boy began acting in a strange manner and they became separated during the walk.
The sheriff's office statement did not describe the strange behavior or indicate how long the teen's body had been submerged in the water.
Relatives reported the boy missing to the Palm Beach County School District, and district police issued a missing persons flyer. According to the sheriff's office, the next day, deputies responded to a the Royal Palm Beach recreation center, where the boy's backpack was found. It was turned over to school district police as part of their investigation.
That night, the sheriff's office went back to the area to assist the district police in the search for the boy. The search ended about four hours later, the newspaper reported.
The boy's relatives told the Post they continued searching until his body was found in the pond.
“We’ve got a 14-year-old missing. Why did we have to do our own search until we found him?” the boy's uncle, Yvenel Clermont, said at Wednesday's march.