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Toddler Found Dead in Pond After Search Reminiscent of Smith Case

September 29, 1995

LAURENS, S.C. (AP) _ A 2-year-old boy whose disappearance brought back sad memories of the Susan Smith case was found dead in a pond after his baby sitter reported that he had wandered off.

``We’re not calling it a crime at this point,″ Laurens County Sheriff Jim Moore said. ``We’re not calling it an accident.″

Jacob Ryan Foster’s sitter, Janice Braswell, said he wandered off Thursday after they went to a mailbox a few hundred feet from the pond near his mother’s mobile home.

Divers found his body Friday when authorities began draining the pond in a search that had included hundreds of volunteers. An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.

The parallels to the Smith case in neighboring Union County did not escape searchers or the boy’s grandparents, Daryl and Clara Foster.

``The first thing we thought about was Union,″ Foster said.

Ms. Smith was convicted in July of drowning her sons by strapping them in her car and rolling it into a lake last October. She initially reported that they were taken in a carjacking.

Ms. Braswell passed a lie-detector test. The boy’s mother, Barbara Wilkie, 22, also took a polygraph test but her medication made the results inconclusive, sheriff’s investigator Brenda Owens said. She did not know if Ms. Wilkie would be asked to take another test.

Jacob lived with his mother. His father, Jared Foster, 24, lived in nearby Clinton. The couple never married.

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