Family mourns death of missing teenager

Local News

MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — People in Mattoon are supporting a family as they cope with the death of a missing teenager with autism.

After six days of searching, 16-year-old Dominic Walker’s body was found by a boy who was fishing. Walker had disappeared from his father’s house early Saturday morning. The coroner says he drowned in Dreamland Lake in Decatur. There was no evidence of assault or strangulation.

Dominic’s sister says this is the worst thing that has happened to their family and it wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for. She wanted WCIA to share a message about Dominic.

Alexandria Stone says, “I want every single person to know how special Dominic was. He was funny and kind and so, so smart. I hope our little family was able to give him the best life and that he knows we will always love him.” Walker loved Hot Wheels, collecting DVDs, and watching YouTube videos. 

This day was also a time for grieving for people at Mattoon High School. Walker was a sophomore there. 

Superintended Larry Lilly says they had extra counseling for students at the school on Friday and “In addition to our counselors, social workers, and school psychologists, we also brought in a local clergy to led an ear and to help support students in need.” 

Even people who didn’t know him personally are trying to cope with this and support his family. Lilly says, “It’s a tragedy. It’s heartbreaking to see a family go through this and the school district as a larger community as well. He was a young man who had his whole life ahead of him. We just grieve for the family.”

Walker was in a small class of students. Aaron Black was his special education teacher. He shared a statement saying, “He taught me how to understand all students, how to have patience, and he would assist me on helping other students. When work was done Dom and I would talk about movies, weekend plans, and usually end our day by singing together John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home.’ Dominic will truly be missed.” 

There’s something else Walker’s sister wants to tell people. She says, “Thank you to everyone who aided in his search. I appreciate each and every one of you.” 

Police are still investigating this death. Extra counseling will be provided at the high school through next week. 

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