Missing 2-year-old boy, father found dead, each had been shot

Two people found dead inside a Jeep Wednesday morning

By Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer, Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter, NBC New York

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. - Police say a missing 2-year-old boy and his father have been found dead inside an SUV in Rockbridge County. 

Authorities also say that both the boy and his father each had been shot, although they will not confirm the cause of death at this time due to the smoke inside the vehicle.

Two-year-old Jovani Ligurgo and his father, John Ligurgo III, 43, were last seen in Coram, New York on Tuesday.

At this time, police said it's still under investigation why the two were in Virginia.

When asked why an Amber Alert wasn't issued, New York State Police issued this statement:

“This is a terrible tragedy and the New York State Police is extremely saddened by the outcome of this case. Based on the preliminary investigation, At the time the request was made an AMBER Alert wasn’t warranted. The father did not have a criminal history, had no history of violence, and had never harmed the child. In addition, once it was established that the vehicle had crossed into New Jersey, the focus of the search moved there. State Police contacted the New York State Intelligence Center to further assist Suffolk PD in their investigation.”  

Suffolk County police said a positive ID is pending after two bodies were found in a vehicle with plates matching the ones on a father's plates in Rockbridge County. 

No Amber Alert was ever issued for the boy or his father.

Between 7 and 8 a.m. Wednesday, a call came in about a car that was possibly on fire in Rockbridge County, according to Rockbridge County Chief Deputy Tony McFaddin.

McFaddin said there was smoke inside the black Jeep on School House Hill Road and two people were found dead inside.

Map of where the bodies were found

According to the New York state AMBER Alert site, an alert is issued when a child was abducted and is thought to be in danger of serious bodily harm or death. The site adds that in some cases, alerts may not be practical if available information is not specific enough or an extended period of time has passed since a disappearance.

Jovani Ligurgo was reported missing when he wasn't returned to his mother -- who has custody of the boy -- at their predetermined drop-off time of about 4 p.m. So authorities said she called police.

Shortly thereafter, officers responded to a fire at the father's house. A search was conducted of the burning home, but police said it was empty. It's not clear whether the fire is suspicious or whether it was linked to Jovani's disappearance. 

Authorities said Ligurgo left the state in his black Jeep Grand Cherokee with Jovani, and that the man may have had a hunting rifle with him.

Police said toll cameras captured the vehicle crossing the George Washington Bridge from New York into New Jersey. The time cameras captured it was not immediately clear. 

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