Body found in River Soar confirmed to be missing two-year-old

Xielo Mariziva was walking with his family by the River Soar in Leicestershire when he fell into the water almost four months ago

Alex Ross
Monday 10 June 2024 16:33
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Leicestershire Police have confirmed that a body found in the River Soar is that of Xielo Maruziva (Leicestershire Police/PA)
Leicestershire Police have confirmed that a body found in the River Soar is that of Xielo Maruziva (Leicestershire Police/PA) (PA Media)

A body found in the River Soar in Leicestershire has been confirmed as missing two-year-old Xielo Maruziva, police have said.

A major search operation was launched after Xielo fell into the River Soar while walking with family members in Aylestone Meadows on 18 February.

His father desperately entered the water to try to rescue him, and later police launched a vast rescue operation across the nature reserve including over 200 officers and five specialist teams.

But despite their efforts, the toddler – described as “cheeky, funny, friendly, smart, caring and independent” by his distraught family – was not found, and the BBC reported that the operation had been scaled back several weeks later.

Leicestershire Police said a body had been recovered from the river last Thursday and announced on Monday that formal identification had now taken place.

Leicestershire Police was joined by specialist diving teams from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire constabularies in the search for Xielo
Leicestershire Police was joined by specialist diving teams from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire constabularies in the search for Xielo (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Confirming the body belonged to Xielo, Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said: “We are so sorry to bring this news.

“This is a devastating and tragic incident and our thoughts are with all of Xielo’s family at this most difficult and unimaginable time. We ask that the privacy of the family continues to be respected at this time.”

In a previous statement issued by the police force, Xielo’s mother described her son as a “cheeky, funny and friendly” boy.

Experts from Specialist Group International joined the search operation
Experts from Specialist Group International joined the search operation (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

“Me, his dad and the whole family are so heartbroken at what has happened,” she said. “We thank everyone who has supported us and helped us during this time. We are extremely grateful for this.

“All we want is for Xielo to be found as soon as possible.”

Leicestershire Police was joined by specialist diving teams from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire constabularies, while members of the public were urged to avoid the water for their safety.

But last Thursday, workers found the boy’s body.

Ass Chf Cons Kerr said: “Full support also continues to be provided to the workers who were in the area of Aylestone Meadows on Thursday morning and I continue to thank them for their support and co-operation in the most horrendous circumstances.”

She added: “I know this news has affected so many of us and again I want to pass on my thanks to everyone who has been involved in the search for Xielo for your dedicated work in extremely traumatic circumstances and an extremely complex search.

“Thank you also to our communities and wider members of the public for your continued support.”

Local councillors have shared their sadness at the discovery of Xielo’s body.

In a joint statement, Nigel Porter and Scott Kennedy-Lount: “We know that for Xielo’s parents and family this will be the most devastating news and it is a heartbreaking outcome.

“Local residents in Aylestone have been deeply affected by this tragedy and it has touched us all.”

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