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    Body of missing Pasco boy found in lake

    [Times photo: Dan McDuffie]
    Volunteers gather near Lake Pasadena on Thursday night to search for the missing boy.

    By The Associated Press
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 25, 2002

    The body of 2-year-old Bobby Nystrom was found in Lake Pasadena.
    DADE CITY- The body of a missing toddler was found this morning in a neighborhood lake, a day after he wandered out of his home with his two cocker spaniels.

    Sheriff's deputies located the body of 2-year-old Bobby Nystrom about 100 yards from a boat ramp on Lake Pasadena, a large lake across the street from the boy's home in the Lake Pasadena Heights neighborhood in eastern Pasco County.

    An autopsy will determine a cause of death, said sheriff's office spokesman Kevin Doll.

    The boy wandered off Thursday about noon. One of the dogs returned wet shortly after the mother noticed the boy was missing. The other animal was found later Thursday, stuck in the muck by the lake.

    Sheriff's deputies searched Thursday by helicopter, boats, personal watercraft, scuba divers and on land with tracking dogs. They resumed their search early today, focusing on the lake.

    On Thursday night, about 250 volunteers armed with flashlights marched into thick woods and marshlands surrounding Lake Pasadena. But their determination and prayers -- some uttered aloud -- turned up only frustration late into the night.

    The boy's mother, Marcia, last saw him about 11:45 a.m. Thursday at the family's house at 11546 Meadowlane Drive. She told deputies she went into another room to work on some church gift baskets.

    Authorities said the child, who has two older brothers, knew the way to the lake because he had taken frequent walks there with his father, Joe, a doctor in Dade City and Zephyrhills.

    What started as a small search effort had grown to a massive hunt by late afternoon.

    Firefighters, police officers and other officials from across Tampa Bay showed up. Doctors, and staff from two area hospitals flocked to the scene, some still wearing their blue scrubs.

    Neighbors signed up to search. Teenagers pedaled their bikes to the scene. A nun arrived.

    Even east Pasco's newest multimillionaire pitched in.

    "There's a human life involved," said Jim Smith, who won $11-million in the Lotto on Saturday. "You do anything you can."

    That same feeling reverberated through the crowd on Thursday.

    "It's hard to stand around and do nothing," said Zephyrhills Police Sgt. Randy Grimm, who attends church with the Nystroms.

    "It could be one of our kids," said Marilyn Burns, a staff member at Pasco Regional Medical Center in Dade City. "My stomach is nervous. I've been praying since I heard about it."

    As the evening wore own, Checkers delivered more than 50 cheeseburgers. Cases of Pepsi appeared, seemingly from nowhere. Volunteers handed out bottled water.

    The search along the lake was called off about 9:15 p.m., although crews kept searching late into the night.

    Much of the area was dry due to drought, and investigators found several alligator nests among the reeds.

    Family members and friends sat around a dining room table inside the one-story rock home Thursday night. The kitchen phone rang loudly and often. The two cocker spaniels barked in the pen.

    Outside, TV news crews swarmed, helicopters buzzed overhead and hundreds of flashlights criss-crossed the dark woods.

    "Any time there is a child involved, it's a heart-wrenching experience," White said. "We're going to search until we can't search anymore."

    -- Times staff writers Brady Dennis, Chase Squires and Ryan Davis contributed to this report.

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