12-year-old boy missing for nearly 4 years found dead in attic of New York home where sex offender reportedly lived

The remains of a 12-year-old boy who had been missing for years were found in the attic of a residence in New York where a sex offender reportedly lived at a sober living group.

Jaylen Griffin left his home on August 4, 2020, to go to the grocery store and was never seen alive again.

On Sunday, three and a half years later, his grandmother heard the news she had been praying against for years.

“I ask the Lord to give me strength. That’s how I process it,” Shirley Banks said to WGRZ-TV. “I held that up until yesterday when they told me they had found him and he was deceased.”

The boy’s remains were found on Friday at a home on Sheffield Avenue in South Buffalo, and police have designated his death as a homicide.

“The body that was located in the house had been there for a significant amount of time,” Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told reporters in a media briefing Monday.

The remains were found by a maintenance worker who was working on the home, which was located about five miles from where Griffin disappeared. The worker had been called to investigate an odor coming from the attic.

Gramaglia said that the Erie County Medical Examiner confirmed the identity of the victim through the use of dental records.

“I do want to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family of Jaylen,” he added. “This department has conducted extensive searches and I want Jaylen’s family to know that we are working diligently to bring the next closure for the family.”

Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Keane said an autopsy report could take months to complete.

“That’s going to hopefully reveal to us some forensic evidence that is going to be significant in the investigation,” Keane said.

The family of the victim has had to deal with a lot of violence and loss. His mother, Joanna Ponzo, died in September, and his brother, Jawaan, was shot and killed in November 2020 just months after the boy’s disappearance.

Neighbors living near the home told WGRZ that the home had been damaged by a fire eight years ago and since had been rented out to recent parolees, sex offenders, and people with mental illness.

A report from WKBW-TV found that the house was owned by a company that runs adult support homes. They also confirmed that just a month before the remains were found, a sexual offender registered to live at the home was booked on a new sex charge.

Police have not yet identified any suspect in the homicide investigation.

“This is nothing short of a tragedy for a 12-year-old boy to go missing and for it to end this way,” said Gramaglia. “This is an absolute tragedy and it’s very sad.”

The boy would have turned 16 years old the week after his body was found, he added.

Here’s a report about the incident:

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