After The Remains Of A Missing Boy Are Found Inside A Buffalo Home, The Focus Shifts To How He Died

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The remains of a 12-year-old boy who went missing in 2020 have been found inside a Buffalo house, and the death is being investigated as a homicide, police said Monday.

Jaylen Griffin was last seen on Aug. 4, 2020, when he left his East Buffalo home for a nearby convenience store at about 11 a.m. His body was found Friday in a house about 5 miles away (8 kilometers), in South Buffalo.

He had been dead “for a considerable amount of time,” Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference.

The remains were found by someone who had reason to be in the occupied, multi-family house but did not live there, according to the commissioner. He declined to provide additional details about the body's location or condition.

Jaylen's identity was confirmed through the use of dental records on Monday, he said.

After his disappearance, the boy’s picture appeared on billboards and flyers that promised rewards for information. Family and neighbors prayed at candlelit vigils and police followed up on numerous tips, including some from psychics who contacted investigators, Gramaglia said.

“There’s a host of organizations and groups and people that have been diligently searching for over three and a half years to find Jaylen, and unfortunately, the result is not what we wanted,” he said.

Three months after Jaylen went missing, his 18-year-old brother, Jawaan Griffin, was fatally shot across the street from his house, police said.

Jawaan and Jaylen’s mother, Joann Ponzo, died in September at age 48, after an illness that acquaintances said was compounded by grief, according to local media.

An autopsy that could yield clues about Jaylen's death is expected to take months, acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Keane said.

“This is a tragedy and it’s a terrible way to bring this search to a conclusion,” Keane said. “This now begins a homicide investigation.”

A candlelight vigil is planned for April 22, on what would have been Jaylen's 16th birthday.