TACOMA,Wash. -- The Pierce County medical examiner's office says 8-year-old Azriel Carver drowned. His body was found Thursday on a south Puget Sound beach, and a search continues for his mother, 29-year-old Shantina Smiley.
The medical examiner's office said Friday that the boy has been positively identified, and that an autopsy found his death was an accident.
Carver and Shantina Kat Smiley, apparently abandoned a van on Saturday.
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, said Robb Simmons, Shantina's fiance.
Jed Carver came to the beach where his son was found and helped detectives identify him. You really don't know what you have in your life until they're gone, said Carver. It's a sad turn of events... He could have offered a lot to this world.
Detectives launched boats in the area after finding the boy's body on Thursday, with hopes of finding Smiley as well. The Dana Passage goes right up that way, said Lt. Chris Mealy of the Thurston County Sheriff's office, referring to a tidal system between Olympia and Tacoma.
History of abuse reports
Meanwhile, reports surfaced Friday that Shantina previously had been investigated for abusing and neglecting the boy.
Washington state Child Protective Services confirmed that it had received 10 complaints involving Smiley and her son over the past five years, and that three of the complaints had been investigated.
In March 2007, CPS investigated a complaint that Smiley had physically abused her son, but the complaint was closed as unfounded.
In August 2007, the agency found that Smiley was negligent in caring for her son after she left him unsupervised while she was passed out from alcohol intoxication. The boy was placed under the care of relatives while Smiley received substance abuse treatment, then returned the next year to his mother's care.
Another referral was made to CPS in April 2009 about Carver acting out in school, but no details were immediately available. We're still waiting to find out how much contact we had at this time, CPS spokeswoman Sherry Hill said.
CPS will now conduct an extensive fatality review, which involves going over every aspect of the case to see if mistakes were made by any agency along the way.
We will look at all activity we had with the family ... in the fatality review, Hill said. We're going to scrutinize every action.
Van found partially submerged in water
Smiley's van was found at the end of a steep dirt road on a private beach on a Puget Sound inlet.
Smiley's fiance, Robb Simmons was working closely with detectives and confirmed that a black shoe, an orange ball and an inhaler that washed up on shore near the van did belong to Smiley. In addition, a half-empty jug of wine found in the water matched the brand of wine that a clerk said Smiley had purchased Saturday night at an Olympia convenience store, according to investigators.
Simmons said Smiley was a recovering alcoholic who had recently relapsed because of a lot of stress in her life.
Surveillance video creates timeline
In addition, surveillance video taken on Saturday at about 8 p.m. at the Safeway on Harrison Ave. in Olympia shows Smiley possibly getting directions. Overnight, a neighbor on an adjoining rural road told authorities she may have heard something that sounded like someone knocking on the wall, on the night Smiley and Azriel disappeared.
'Frazzled' loved ones help with search
Late Tuesday night, the father of Smiley's son flew into SeaTac from New York so he could search for the missing pair. Jay Carver said he planned to rent a car and try and retrace Smiley's path. He said he was frazzled and intended to search in the woods as well. Wednesday morning, NBC's Today Showalso featured the story, bringing more attention to the ongoing search.
She's a wonderful, outgoing, trustful person that would do just about anything for anybody and she wouldn't hurt anybody because that's not her personality, Smiley's ex-husband, Jerry Smiley told KGW.
Her current fiance said he doesn't think Smiley's alcoholism played any role in her disappearance. Simmons said he can't see her putting herself and her son at risk.
The pair were tracked at a number of odd locations, according to Thurston County Sheriff's deputies.
- Saturday, 8 p.m.
Smiley and son spotted at Handy Pantry Convenience Store
- Saturday, 9 p.m.
Dinner at the Martin Way Diner
- Saturday, 10 p.m.
Pulled over and asked for directions to I-5
They were never seen again. Smiley's van was found at the end of a steep dirt road on a private beach at Puget Sound's Budd Inlet, partly submerged in water.
There is nothing that has me calm. I'm worrying constantly, Simmons told MSNBC Tuesday morning. She always keeps in touch this makes no sense at all. Watch interview
Many questions unanswered in investigation
I don't know if it just wasn't a good circumstance for her and she just decided to pick up and leave, Jerry Smiley said. But I don't know if she was looking for directions and she stopped and asked the wrong person, or she might have gone by another gas station and somebody could have just grabbed her, God forbid, when she hit a stop sign, somebody jumped in the car and pointed a gun in her face and said, 'let's go.' All I want is enough people out there looking for her as we possibly can, because she needs to come home.
The side door and rear hatch-back were open. Smiley's wallet was inside. There was no evidence of a crime.
Shantina Smiley is about 5'9 and weighs about 140 pounds. She has numerous tattoos - one on her neck, one on each wrist and a pair of lightning bolts across her back.
Anyone with information on Shantina Smiley or Azriel was asked to contact authorities at (360) 786-5530.
I still love her, I really do and I just hope that nothing bad has happened. I want this to be a good ending, I want people to find her, Smiley added.
(KGWReporters Amanda Burden,Erica Heartquist and Anne Yeager contributed to this report)