Boy, 12, missing for four years is the fourth body to be found in chilling house of horrors

Neighbours have also reported fires and domestic violence incidents at the home in Buffalo, New York, which has seen 160 complaints to police since 2007

Dan Gooding
Wednesday 24 April 2024 19:37 BST
Body of boy who went missing four years ago is found as family members mourn loss

More than 160 complaints have been made over the years about the home where a missing 12-year-old’s body was found, with at least three other bodies reportedly discovered there.

Jaylen Griffin’s body was found, decomposed, at the property on Sheffield Avenue in South Buffalo, New York, nearly four years after he vanished in August 2020.

The discovery wasn’t the first time police had been called out to the address, WIVB reports, with at least 160 police complaints since 2007.

Among those call-outs were three other bodies, including the most recent discovery in the yard of the house in August 2023, the outlet said.

The first body turned up following a welfare check in June 2020, reports said, with another reported in September 2022, which led to an arrest.

Domestic violence, fire and mental health welfare checks were also included in the list of 911 calls for the multi-unit property, the outlet reported.

Buffalo Police Department refused to comment to The Independent on the reports, referring instead to their previous press conference on the discovery of Jaylen’s body.

Jaylen Griffin disappeared in Buffalo, NY, in August 2020
Jaylen Griffin disappeared in Buffalo, NY, in August 2020 (Jaylen Griffin)

Police said then that someone was in the property with a valid reason and came across Jaylin’s body and immediately called 911. Officers would not say where in the home his body was found.

Meanwhile, a neighbour is suing the landlords - Sunrise West LLC - and Spectrum Health and Human Services, after a tenant reportedly threw pieces of a burnt mattress out of a window, which caused $130,000 of damage to their property.

Spectrum reportedly houses some “high-need, high-risk individuals” at homes around the city. The Independent has approached the organisation for further comment but is yet to receive a response.

Jaylen’s body was found on 12 April, a week before what would have been his 16th birthday.

Police said that they believed his body had been in the house for a “significant amount of time”, but they could not provide a timeframe.

His mother, Joann Ponzo, died aged 48 in September 2023 without knowing what had happened to her son.

Jaylen vanished on 4 August 2020, after leaving his home on Warren Avenue in the Broadway-Fillmore district, near the Central Terminal.

His mother told People in 2021 that he liked to go to stores nearby and help people carry their bags for small change.

A few months later, Ms Ponzo lost Jaylen’s older brother when he was killed in a shooting, aged 18.

“She struggled,” Kareema Morris, the founder of Bury the Violence, who supported the mother and helped to spread awareness of Jaylen’s disappearance, told The Buffalo News. “She did the best she knew how. She loved her children.”

Ms Morris said Jaylen’s mother became frustrated with the lack of updates from law enforcement, despite renewed searches over the years.

At one point, Ms Ponzo showed Ms Morris a binder she had found in the house two weeks after Jaylen vanished.

In it was a drawing, with the words “I’m gone already” written on it. His mother wondered if he had already known his fate, Ms Morris told The Buffalo News.

Buffalo PD is now offering a $7,500 reward for information which leads to the arrest or indictment of those responsible for Jaylen’s death.

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