LYNNWOOD — A young man drowned his 6-year-old nephew in a bathtub, stuffed his body in a box and disposed of it in a garbage bin at a Lynnwood-area apartment complex, according to Snohomish County investigators.
For hours on a cold, dark Monday night, the street was filled with flashlights, dogs and deputies searching for the missing boy. In the end the body of Dayvid Pakko was discovered early Tuesday, mere feet from the front door of his family’s apartment, according to the sheriff’s office.
His uncle, 19, of Kerrville, Texas, was arrested for investigation of domestic violence murder in the first degree. He admitted to filling up the tub around 2:30 p.m. Monday, calling Dayvid into the room and holding him under water until his body went still, according to investigators.
The suspect “did not provide life saving measures,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton wrote in a press release.
Detectives believe the uncle left Dayvid face down in the water for about six minutes, before he wrapped the body in a blanket, put it in a cardboard box, and dumped it in the nearest garbage bin.
The uncle was being held without bail at the county jail Tuesday afternoon. No charges have been filed. He was expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday.
Dayvid reportedly had been staying home sick from school at the Bristol Square Apartments, 15700 44th Avenue W near Lynnwood. He was described as mildly autistic, with a tendency to run and hide when people called his name.
The sheriff’s office sent out a notice shortly before 7 p.m. alerting the public of a missing 48-pound boy in green camouflage pajamas. The boy’s body was found around 2 a.m. by members of the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force.
Anthony Micallef, 48, has a back yard facing the first-floor apartment where Dayvid’s family lives. Micallef’s son, 6, knew Dayvid as a first-grade classmate at Beverly Elementary School.
On Monday, the street was flooded with people with flashlights, looking for the missing child. Micallef said he joined the boy’s family in prayer in his front driveway. They were worried, Micallef said, but optimistic that Dayvid would be found alive.
“Everybody was thinking that he was hiding,” Micallef said. “But once it got to be 11 o’clock at night I knew it was worse than that.”
Detectives set up a command post near the entrance to Dayvid’s apartment.
Sheriff’s deputies were aided by volunteers, police dogs and a helicopter. Dozens of neighbors stayed to help until the early morning hours. A total of about 200 people patrolled the streets and bushes as far as a quarter-mile south at Highway 99.
“They were even looking in the trees, because they said he liked to climb trees,” Micallef said.
Micallef went to bed around midnight. He awoke to the sound of his wife, Tracy, crying as she read the news on Facebook.
Investigators worked through heavy rain Tuesday. The trash bin and its surroundings were covered by canopies. It was about 30 feet from the front door of the apartment where Dayvid lived.
Dayvid’s parents married in 2010 and have been separated since at least 2012, court papers show.
The couple began divorce proceedings in Snohomish County three years ago. The case was dismissed for lack of follow-up. As of last year, Dayvid’s mother said, her estranged husband lived in Florida, and she hadn’t had contact with him for at least six months.
Dayvid’s mother posted on Tumblr for several months in 2013, to discuss the challenges of raising a child with special needs. He had a habit of opening doors and leaving the house while sleepwalking, and opening doors for strangers, she wrote. She posted about plans to buy special locks.
She wrote on her Facebook page at 6:45 p.m. Monday: “Dayvid is missing he got out while I was at work search and rescue is looking.”
The family has asked for privacy, both through the boy’s school and on social media.
“Any and all prayers and loving wishes are greatly appreciated,” read one online fundraising page.
During the search, the Edmonds School District sent out a message expressing hope for his safe return. The Beverly Elementary PTA helped organize volunteer searchers. Children affected by the death were given excused absences Tuesday, the PTA posted. A PTA meeting planned for 6:30 p.m Thursday will offer a chance for the community to gather and focus on ways to process the loss and pay tribute to the child. Child care will be provided in the library.
“Incredibly tragic doesn’t even begin to express the response from the school community to the loss of Dayvid,” said Debbie Joyce Jakala, a district spokeswoman.
Extra counselors were at Dayvid’s school to support students and staff.
“This is an extremely close, tight-knit community,” Jakala said.
Beverly Principal Danielle Sanders sent a letter to families and staff Tuesday afternoon. She described Dayvid as “a vivacious, loving, determined 6-year-old who will be missed by his fellow first-graders, as well as classmates across all grades.”
Meanwhile, parents and neighbors, like Micallef, struggled with how and when to explain to their own kids what had happened.
“I was hoping it was going to turn out to be something better than what it is,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “I knew the weather was going to be (rainy) like this today — and if they didn’t find him? Imagine a little boy with pajamas on and no shoes, last night. I mean, it was so cold. But then I’m thinking, man, he’s got to run to an adult, saying, ‘I’m cold,’ or something. But he never did.”
Reporters Eric Stevick and Rikki King contributed to this story.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.