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Infant remains found in New York river believed to be those of missing boy

By Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 8:12 PM EDT, Sun September 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New York State Police find the remains of a child in a river based on a tip
  • The remains were in a container in "a narrow area" of the river, police say
  • Levon Wameling was 10 months old when his father reported him missing in June
  • Dad waited 2 weeks to report disappearance, raising questions, police said in June

New York (CNN) -- Authorities in New York state are working to identify the remains of an infant found in an upstate river that are believed to be those of a baby missing from Utica since June.

Utica Police Sgt. Steve Hauck said a crew of about seven New York State Police divers found the remains in a container in a very specific part of the Mohawk River. They believe they belong to Levon Wameling, who was 10 months old when he was reported missing.

Following "credible information from State Police," investigators searched the river Friday morning, according to Utica Police Chief Mark Williams.

"It's safe to say we were told a narrow area of where (the remains) might be and we found (them) there. We have to do our due diligence to confirm the identity, but we are confident they are the remains (of Levon)," Hauck said. The Onondaga County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct the autopsy.

Hauck said there is no official time table for when the autopsy results will be available but said identification would likely come first. Determining the cause of death might take months. He said investigators have DNA samples from Levon and his family to compare to the remains. He added that autopsies of children often take longer than those of adults and that being submerged in the river affected the remains.

On Thursday, the missing the child's father, Jevon Wameling, was arrested by New York State Police and accused of breaking into a home in a suburb of Utica to steal jewelry and money.

Hauk wouldn't say whether Wameling had anything to do with the tip leading police to the as-yet unidentified remains, citing the ongoing investigation, but the circumstances of Levon's disappearance raised questions about the boy's father from the start.

Wameling took two weeks to go to an attorney's office then call police to report Levon's disappearance, authorities said back in June.

"Based on the information that he's given us, we have a lot of concern," Williams said at the time.

"We have a problem with what he says," Williams said. "There's no question about it."

The father told investigators he took the child out for a late-night walk and locked himself out of his home, so he put the boy down on the small front porch and went around back to find a way in.

When he opened the front door, he said, the baby was gone.

"We have a lot of investigative work to be done on this case still," Williams said Friday. "We're going to make sure the person responsible for this is charged."

Levon's first birthday would have been August 31, police said.

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