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Missing Elkhart County mother found dead, son uninjured

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Screenshot captured via Facebook Live
South Bend law enforcement officials gave a press conference about the death of Alexis Morales on Wednesday, April 20.

A New Paris mother and son who were reported missing in Elkhart County last week were found in South Bend Tuesday evening.

According to the South Bend Police, the mother is dead, while the baby is uninjured. The investigation is being treated as a homicide.

Last week, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office reported that 27-year-old Alexis Morales and her 5-month-old son, Messiah, were last seen leaving Kelly Park in South Bend on the evening of April 12.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said Morales’s family met with South Bend officers Monday, April 18. The Indiana State Police issued a Silver Alert shortly after.

Around 6 p.m. Tuesday, South Bend police officers responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle in a driveway behind a house in the 400 block of South Bendix Drive.

Officers found both Alexis and Messiah Morales inside the vehicle. Alexis was pronounced dead at the scene, but Messiah was transported to Memorial Hospital. Ruszkowski said he was still there with family as of Wednesday afternoon.

Ruszkowski said there were social media rumors that officers had been notified about the suspicious vehicle earlier than Tuesday and failed to respond to it. He called the rumors “absolutely false.”

Other social media posts questioned why a Silver Alert wasn’t issued sooner. Michiana Crime Stoppers coordinator Lt. Kayla Miller said Wednesday that there are specific criteria that must be met before an alert is issued.

“There has to be a concern for the well-being and safety of the person the Silver Alert is out for — whether that be a medical condition, foul play — again, concerns for that well-being and safety,” she said.

Miller said an Amber Alert had likely been ruled out since Messiah Morales was thought to be with his mother, rather than another adult.

Ruszkowski said his department is continuing to investigate, along with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office. An autopsy for Alexis Morales is scheduled for Friday.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.