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State

Coroner: 8-year-old boy suffocated to death

PEORIA – Police in Peoria have started an investigation into the death of an 8-year-old boy who was reported missing and then found dead in a refrigerator the next day.

Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll said Friday that an autopsy found Marquail D. Johnson suffocated to death.

She did not rule whether his death was a homicide or accidental, saying that was still under investigation. Ingersoll also is awaiting results from toxicology tests. The autopsy found no evidence of trauma.

Marquail was reported missing late Wednesday and his body was found early Thursday in an upright refrigerator in a yard a few houses from where he lived, the Journal Star in Peoria reported.

The newspaper reported the refrigerator was an older model with latches that closed the door from the outside. The appliance was unplugged and sitting near the back door of a home.

Later Thursday, more than 100 people gathered near the spot where the boy’s body was found. They left balloons, candles and stuffed animals.

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