Nearly 75 people took part in a ceremony honoring the life of a 3-year-old boy from Morganton who was found dead on the porch of a home last week.
Landyn Michael Melton was laid to rest Monday and family members say dozens of people came out to his services and a balloon release in his honor.
"Turnout was unbelievable," aunt Vikki Basinger told WBTV. "For such a short life, he touched so many people."
Burkemont Baptist Church provided space in its cemetery and local groups also helped to pay for the cost. Officials told WBTV the family could not afford the funeral but more than enough people came forward to make it possible.
If you look at a cropped version of the original photo given to WBTV News, you can see the '3' on Landyn's birthday cake. The photo of the toddler was taken by his aunt, Ashley Jones, at her home where Landyn's 3rd Birthday was celebrated March 14. Ashley is Landyn's mom's sister.
Less than 24 hours later a neighbor called authorities when she thought she saw the body of a child a porch at the home where Landyn reportedly lived with his mother, Jamie Basinger, family members say.
Authorities found the three-year-old's lifeless body outside in the bitter cold. It is still unclear how the child ended up there, but the child's body had no signs of trauma, according to an autopsy.
Monday afternoon Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant told WBTV the little boy died from hypothermia. He later called back and said while hypothermia is suspected to be Landyn's cause of death, the final determination has not actually been made. According to Sheriff Whisenant, the medical examiner is waiting for the toxicology report before confirming the cause of death.
The Burke County Sheriff's Office says a motorist called around 7:45 a.m. last Wednesday to report what they thought was a child lying on the front porch of a home in the 1200 block of Hopewell Road.
Deputies say they arrived a short time later and found the 3-year-old's body.
Sheriff Whisenant says it is possible the weather played a factor in the case.
"It was cold that morning," he said, but added that more information is needed before a final determination is made.
Whisenant says once his investigators finish looking at the case, the findings will be turned over to the District Attorney's office to decide what, if anything, should happen next. No timetable has been set for filing that report.
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