Weeks-Old Baby Found Dead in Yolo County Slough

A weeks-old baby was found dead Wednesday morning in a Northern California body of water, according to Yolo County sheriff's officials, who identified him as the missing 20-day-old Justice Rees.

Sheriff's Capt. Larry Cecchettini said Justice was found just before 10 a.m. after crews from across the state had been searching for him along the Ridge Cut Slough, a wetlands area found along an ocean bay, at the junction of the Sacramento River in Knight's Landing. Justice had been reported missing since Monday.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Cecchettini said "it's too early to tell if there was foul play." He also told the paper there was no evidence to suggest it was a homicide.

Police from all over California had been searching for Justice in Knight’s Landing, according to Woodland Police Capt. Dale Johnson, after the baby's mother called 911 in a panic about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Johnson told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that the baby's mother, 23-year-old Samantha Green, was also considered missing for a time. She turned up late Tuesday afternoon in the town of Knight's Landing, on a levee road near the Sycamore Slough along the Sacramento River.

Johnson said she was "distraught and disheveled consistent with someone that had come from the slough." She also had some injuries, and she was taken to the hospital for treatment and evaluation, Johnson said.

He said authorities don't know why she appeared without the baby, or what brought her to Knight's Landing — a Northern California town with a population of about 995 people. As far as he knows, she has no known links to that town, although she has family nearby in Woodland, which is about 10 miles away.

Green's sister, Aissa Green, asked for privacy on her Facebook page around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

"I have seen some very upsetting comments circulating as well as many assumptions," she wrote. "And it's only making things harder."

Right now, she wrote, "we are focused on the search for Baby Justice."

Various police agencies had helped to look for the boy, including search and rescue crews from Marin County, according to Sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman.

The Yolo County Sheriff asked the California Office of Emergency Services for help, and authorities in Contra Costa, Alameda, Sonoma and Napa counties were also asked to assist, mostly to send search dogs.

NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.

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