BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — Family and loved ones laid a little boy to rest Monday after he was found dead last week on the front porch of a home in Burke County.
Landyn Melton's graveside service was held at 1 p.m. at Burkemont Baptist Church Cemetery. The obituary for the 3-year-old described him as a loving, happy little boy who lit up the room when he walked in. It went on to say he enjoyed playing, especially mowing with his toy mower.
Officials told Channel 9 that they were called to the home on Hopewell Road, just south of Morganton, around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Authorities said that someone driving by the house spotted the child and called 911.
Investigators think Landyn, who had turned 3 the day before, wandered outside sometime during the night and died after being exposed to the freezing conditions for too long.
When the first deputy arrived, the temperature was in the mid-20s, but the strong winds made it feel much colder.
Wind-chill values in the High Country were below zero overnight.
There were no signs of trauma on Landyn's body, according to an autopsy report done on Thursday. The Burke County Sheriff's Office said toxicology and other tests won't be available for about two weeks.
Pat Williams, a neighbor, said he had seen the little boy only a few times after his mother moved in this month.
"Being a grandmother and a great grandmother, and that being my home place, it has touched me greatly,” Williams said. “I'm sorry for everybody, and the whole community is praying for everybody."
Investigators said the inside door was open when they arrived at the home, but the storm door most likely closed after the child got out.
Deputies said the mother and her boyfriend were asleep at the time and unaware of what happened.
"When you come to a tragic situation like this, it is always heartbreaking for everybody involved, including the officers investigating the case, so our prayers go out to all the families,” Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said.
In the afternoon, several family members at the Sheriff's Office were still in shock.
Neighbors like David Barrier fought back tears after hearing of the incident.
"Just to hear what happened, it's just a tragedy,” Barrier said. “We've been praying for the family and hope things work out for them."
The Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division is continuing the investigation.
The tragedy has the entire community grieving, and you are welcome to leave your condolences for the toddler and his family on Channel 9's Facebook page.
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