March 18, 2010 in Region

Police believe body is that of missing boy

Donna Gordon Blankinship The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A child’s body found Thursday on an island beach in Puget Sound matches the clothing and haircut of an 8-year-old boy who vanished with his mother, leading a Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman to say they were “99 percent sure it’s him.”

The body found on Fox Island, southwest of Tacoma, has the same clothes that Azriel Carver was wearing and the same mohawk haircut.

“It ended the way we didn’t want it to end, but we’re 99 percent sure it’s him,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer told The News Tribune. “There’s nothing to lead us to believe it’s not him.”

The boy’s body was taken to the Pierce County medical examiner’s office, where an autopsy scheduled Friday morning will provide official identification, said Annie Waisanen, a medical examiner’s investigator.

A beach, water and air search was launched in the Fox Island area for any sign of the boy’s mother, 29-year-old Shantina “Kat” Smiley of Silverdale, who disappeared with the boy on Saturday night. Her abandoned minivan, partially submerged with its doors open, was found Sunday on a remote Olympia-area beach about 12 miles south of Fox Island.

A wallet containing her driver’s license, some cash and credit cards was found in the van, but neither she nor her son was anywhere in sight.

Jay Carver, Azriel’s father who flew here from Buffalo, N.Y., this week, went to the beach where the boy was found.

“You really don’t know what you have in your life until they’re gone,” Carver told KING-TV. “It’s a sad turn of events.”

Two mismatched shoes, a partially full and corked wine bottle, an inhaler and an orange ball have washed ashore since the van was found.

Thurston County sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy said the items apparently belonged to the boy or his mother.

Smiley was heading from her home in Silverdale to her stepfather’s house in southwest Washington when she and her son vanished Saturday night. Silverdale is about 16 miles west of Seattle, across the Puget Sound.

Besides searching the area, investigators looked at phone records and talked to people who know Smiley or her son or may have met her Saturday night as she drove through the back roads of Washington state. Her fiance, Robb Simmons, told authorities she was a recovering alcoholic who had relapsed last week.

“We are grieving the loss of Azriel, and praying for Shantina. We are all severely hurting. We are getting the family together so we can grieve together, and so we can have some sort of peace right now,” Simmons told the television station late Thursday.

He told The Associated Press he had no comment.

Mealy said there was no indication that a crime took place inside Smiley’s 2005 Dodge Caravan.

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