UPDATE: Boy found in Cherokee Park identified; police say he was - WDRB 41 Louisville News

UPDATE: Boy found in Cherokee Park identified; police say he was murdered

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Coroner's Office has identified a 12-year-old boy whose body was found in Cherokee Park Tuesday evening -- and Louisville Metro Police are now confirming he was murdered.

The boy has been identified as Ray Allen Etheridge. The coroner's office says he was pronounced dead at 5:34 p.m. at Kosair Children's Hospital, but his cause of death is being withheld by Louisville Metro Police.

During a news conference late Wednesday morning, homicide Lt. Todd Kessinger said the boy's family reported him missing about 10 p.m. Tuesday, just hours after he was found. They say he was found by a passerby about 100 yards into the woods, behind the pavilion, near Hogan's Fountain.

Authorities said Etheridge and his family were homeless, living out of their car or motels. The family is from southern Indiana, but were known to frequent Cherokee Park and the Mid City Mall in the Highland neighborhood.

Superintendent of Clark County Schools Dr. Andrew Melin said Etheridge was a 7th grader at Clark County Middle/High School, an alternative school. He was signed out of school early Tuesday by his mother. Melin said she signed him out at 1 p.m. due to transportation issues.

"Transportation has sometimes been a challenge [for Ray], and therefore, the transportation that he needed to get to where he needed to go was provided at 1 p.m. that day."

Melin said Etheridge was an exceptional kid who was highly regarded by students and teachers.

"Ray was well regarded at Clark County Middle/High. Kids liked him, he was fun to be around, and just had a good personality about him," said Melin. "Ray was the kind of student that had a lot of ability, and we certainly would have wanted to see him be as successful as possible in his life."

Police told the media Etheridge had dark blond hair and a scar under one eye. Police say he was 5'4" and weighed about 118 pounds. At the time of his death he was wearing a gray pullover and red and black Nike athletic shoes.

Kessinger wouldn't say how Etheridge was killed or comment on the nature of his injuries. He also said it was too early to give a suspect description.

"We're not ready to release any suspect information," he said. "We are not going to speculate... we want to protect the integrity of the case, we aren't going to release any of those details."

Police are asking anyone who may have seen Etheridge before he was found in the park to call the LMPD crime tipline at 502-574-LMPD.

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