Police in Virginia believe that they have found the bodies of a 2-year-old New York boy and his father who went missing earlier this week, PEOPLE confirms.
Jovani Ligurgo, of Long Island, and his 43-year-old father, John Ligurgo III, were last seen on Tuesday when Ligurgo had his son for visitation, according to authorities.
When Ligurgo did not drop Jovani at the boy’s mother’s home as expected, she called police.
On the same day that they went missing, firefighters extinguished a blaze at Ligurgo’s home. Police say that two beds had been set on fire inside the home — but there was no sign of Jovani or his dad.
Jovani’s mother went to the home after she heard about the fire. ABC News reports that, according to authorities, she told detectives she believed Ligurgo had a gun inside the house. But when police searched for the firearm, they discovered it was missing.
Authorities began looking for Ligurgo’s black Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was caught on surveillance camera crossing the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.
A multistate search for the pair apparently reached a grisly end when authorities in Rockbridge County, Virginia, found Ligurgo’s SUV — on fire — in the backyard of residential area.
Inside the vehicle were the bodies of a man and a toddler, both of whom had sustained gunshot wounds.
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No Amber Alert Issued
In the aftermath of the tragedy, authorities are explaining why they did not issue an AMBER Alert for the missing child, so that the public could be on the lookout for Ligurgo’s vehicle.
Suffolk County Police asked New York State Police to issue the alert, but their request was denied. In a statement, state police said that “at the time the request was made, an AMBER Alert wasn’t warranted.”
“The father did not have a criminal history, had no history of violence, and had never harmed the child,” the statement continued. “In addition, once it was established that the vehicle had crossed into New Jersey, the focus of the search moved there.”
But that explanation was not enough for Jovani’s mother, Maria Busone.
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“When you know specific facts … the child is not where he is supposed to be and the house is on fire, find the child,” Busone said in an interview with News 12 Long Island. “How many children need to be lost before the law is changed or a criteria is changed?”
Police are continuing to investigate the deaths. An autopsy was conducted on Thursday afternoon. The results have not yet been publicly released.
According to Busone, she and Ligurgo were embroiled in a custody dispute.
“Now what do I have to show for all the good I did?” she told News 12 Long Island. “The rest of my life in grief.”