JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) -- Police have identified a body found in the Meramec River Tuesday evening as a 12-year-old boy who had been been missing for two days.
Several officers responded to the Allentown boat ramp around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday after the body was found.
Police said the body matched the description of Christopher Marks, who was last seen Sunday evening in the Pacific Palisades Conservation Area in the 18800 block of Franklin Road. That’s located just three miles southwest of Six Flags.
They were waiting on Marks’ family to officially confirm the identify of the body, which police said had the same clothes and build as Marks.
All searches for Marks had been called off.
Police said 122 units, including helicopters, divers and K-9s, had been intensely searching for Marks since he went missing, but nothing turned up.
“Our worst fears have been realized that we have located a body,” said St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch. "The county medical examiner is determining the cause of death."
Fitch initially said while divers and ground crews would suspend their search Tuesday night, all investigations would still continue.
Officials said eight teenagers, Marks and his stepdad were on a day trip to bar-b-cue at the park around 7:30 p.m.
The boy told his stepfather he was going to go swing on a rope on the other side of the river.
Chris’ sister, Katie, says he was standing in the water about waist deep and a few feet away from the current.
“It’s pretty strong, you can get out of it if you try really hard and Chris was getting out of it,” said Katie Marks.
But a few moments later she realized he was gone.
Dive teams initially assembled Monday morning around 9 a.m. and searched where dogs had tracked Marks’ scent on the edge of the river. Police also used sonar equipment to aid in the search.
The family said Marks, who was a Boy Scout, had a few sips of beer Sunday night but still should have been able to handle the river’s strong current.
“One drink of beer’s not going to get you drunk, so I mean he was fine and he told me he felt kind of hyper and wanted to go jump off the swing,” said Katie Marks.
Authorities said they have since opened up a criminal investigation in connection the reports there was underage drinking.
Several of Marks’ relatives were at the scene Tuesday morning. The relatives included his mother, Elizabeth Combs, his uncle, a great-aunt and uncle and family friends.
Combs said Marks was going to be a seventh-grader at Rogers Middle School in the fall. He had two sisters, one of them a twin.
Rogers Middle School released this statement regarding the death: “While this has been an extremely difficult situation, I am proud and appreciative of how our teachers and staff have pulled together to support the needs of our students. Our parents and the Affton School District community have been extremely supportive,” said Rogers Middle School principal, Jeff Remelius. “We will continue to offer counseling and student assistance as we begin the school year next week.”