VANCLEAVE -- In a thickly wooded area off a rural road with a few homes scattered along it, authorities found the body of a 16-year-old boy early Thursday evening. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said officials suspect the teen was victim of a homicide.
Cliff Allyn, a freshman at Vancleave High School, went missing about 2 p.m. Monday.
"He was playing basketball with his two cousins at his grandmother's house and they went in for about 15 minutes and when they came back, he wasn't there," said Delbert Sledge, boyfriend of Allyn's mother, Jennifer Smith.
Allyn's mom reported him missing Wednesday afternoon.
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The family searched for him in that wooded area on the family's property on Nanny Road, fighting through the kind of thick brush, Sledge said, that "makes it hard to walk through."
Deputies didn't find Allyn's body until police K-9s joined the search and led them to it.
Ezell called the death suspicious, adding "we are going to investigate anything and everything."
"Right now, nobody knows anything," Sledge said Thursday evening. "They are still doing the investigation. They say they can't release anything until the investigation is over. But for some stupid reason, somebody took the life of a 16-year-old old boy that didn't need to be taken.
"The kid hasn't ever done anything to hurt anybody or anything," he said. "He was a great kid."
Sledge said he and Smith last saw Allyn over the weekend when the teen spent Easter with them. Sledge said they drove him back to his grandmother's house Sunday night.
"He didn't really cause any trouble. He stayed inside and played on his Xbox. He stayed with his grandmother to help her. He was in ROTC. He was doing great in school."
He said Allyn was on spring break for the week.
"He's not the type of kid to just not come home or not answer his phone," Sledge said. "There are a lot of woods with ponds and stuff in the area around his grandmother's house."
Sledge and other relatives gathered at the home on Nanny Road on Thursday evening.
"It's just not a good time," Sledge said. "It's nothing but woods out here."
Jackson County schools Superintendent Barry Amacker said he is "saddened and shocked by the situation."
"My prayers are with the family," he said Thursday night. "We really just want to help them any way we can. This is a sad week for the Jackson County School District. This is the first time I can recall since I've been here to ever have a student whose life was taken from us. We have had a lot of tragedies along the way, with wrecks and accidents, but I don't remember anything like this. It's a tragedy, a real tragedy."
After students return to classes, Amacker said, counseling will be available to those struggling with Allyn's death. He said the school district plans to reach out to Allyn's family "as soon as we feel it's appropriate."
Amacker has been with the Jackson County School District since 2000.
"It's already been a tough week for us," he added.
Sierra Jones, 19, died Monday in car accident in Forrest County. She was a recent graduate of St. Martin High School.
To report information in the investigation into Allyn's death, call the Jackson County Sheriff's Department at 769-3063 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Rewards of up to $1,000 are available for information leading to an arrest.