Boy Vanished in 2020 After Taking Puppy for Walk. His Remains Were Just Found in an Attic 5 Miles Away

Jaylen Griffin would've turned 16 years old next week, police said

Jaylen Griffin
Jaylen Griffin

A Buffalo, N.Y., boy missing since August 2020 has been found in the attic of an apartment roughly five miles from where he was last seen, police announced this week.

On Monday, the Buffalo Police Department announced at a press conference that 12-year-old Jaylen Griffin’s body was found last Friday after a three-and-a-half year search. The boy’s body was found less than a week after he would have turned 16 years old, Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told reporters.

"The body that was located in the house had been there for a significant amount of time," Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.

"I do want to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family of Jaylen," the commissioner 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."

Griffin’s brother Jawaan was shot and killed in front of the family’s home in November 2020, three months after his 12-year-old brother went missing, according to local WGRZ. Griffin’s mother, Joanne Ponzo, died in September 2023.

Related: Buffalo Boy Vanished Last August After Returning Home from Walk with His Beloved New Puppy 

The boy’s father, Brian Griffin, told local WIVB that “now that I have confirmation, I do feel a lot better.” However, the father said police didn’t notify him that investigators had finally found his son after the long search.

“They say they found the body Friday, why wasn’t I notified?” the father asked, adding that he’s curious about who was living at the house where his son was found. “We all don’t know how long he’s been deceased, I’m sure there would’ve been some type of odor.”

Gramaglia said the Erie County Medical Examiner had to identify Griffin using dental records.

WIVB also reported that neighbors said the house where Griffin was found often had people moving in and out and that they’ve seen police respond to the home “many times” over the years. Griffin’s body was discovered by a maintenance man, according to the outlet.

“Who would do something like this to a 12-year-old boy?” local pastor Tim Newkirk, a friend of the Griffin family, said to WIVB.

“How did he end up here? Was he moved? The questions are still remaining,” the pastor continued. “How long was he dead? How long was he deceased? Was he found in something that was locked and had to be opened? And did a certain aroma come out that would be a major complaint to this community? This looks like the type of community where if anything is taking place somebody will report it, or say something.”

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Griffin’s mother, who died last year, told PEOPLE in 2021 that her son went missing shortly after taking his new puppy on a walk. The boy told his mother he was going back out, which she said “wasn’t unusual.”

"We live near a few stores and he would carry people's bags, and they'd give him change,” she said. But Griffin never came home.

Police said at Monday’s press conference that the department is offering a $7,500 reward for “for information leading to the arrest or indictment of the person(s) responsible for the homicide of Jaylen Griffin.”

“This investigation has been going on for over three-and-a-half years,” Gramaglia said. “It’s been an exhaustive investigation.”

The police commissioner added: “This is nothing short of a tragedy for a 12-year-old boy to go missing and for it to end this way. This is an absolute tragedy and it’s very sad.”

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