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Stepdad Of NJ Drowning Victim Suspects ‘Foul Play'; Autopsy Concludes Deaths Were ‘Accidental’

Devine Nicholas, 11, Francisco Perera, 10, Found Dead Monday In Raritan River
Victim's mother Carol Leonard (L), Victim Devine Nicholas and Victim's stepdad Frank Wright (R) (credit: CBS 2 | Handout)

Victim’s mother Carol Leonard (L), Victim Devine Nicholas and Victim’s stepdad Frank Wright (R) (credit: CBS 2 | Handout)

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Autopsy results on the two boys whose bodies were found in a New Jersey river revealed the cause of death to be accidental drowning.

Investigators are still trying to figure out how the best friends — 11-year-old Devine Nicholas and 10-year-old Francisco Perera — ended up being pulled out of the waters of the Raritan in New Brunswick.

Carol Leonard was in shock Tuesday while trying to cope with the death of her son, Nicholas.

“I miss him dearly — so do his sisters and brothers,” Leonard told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan. “I don’t know what happened, but my son can’t swim. He don’t know how to swim and he’s scared of the water and I don’t think he would have went all the way out in that lake just like that on his own.”

The boys were reported missing on Sunday and their bodies were discovered several hundred feed apart in the river on Monday.

“How can you cope? That’s a big pill to swallow — he was only 11 years old,” Leonard said.

“I think there was some foul play because my stepson wouldn’t have gotten in the water like that,” said Nicholas’ step-dad, Frank Wright.

Jennifer Smakolski, who tried to hold back tears as she clutched her 5-year-old, told CBS 2 she is certain she saw Nicholas and Perera playing in the water Sunday evening.

missing nj boys Stepdad Of NJ Drowning Victim Suspects Foul Play; Autopsy Concludes Deaths Were Accidental

Devine Nicholas (left); Francisco Perera (right) (credit: Handout)

“I saw the two kids walking in the water. It was low tide and they were walking on the dirt…so I asked them, ‘Can you swim?’ And they said ‘yes,'” Smakolski said.

Carol Leonard said her son was a good kid, on the honor roll and always told her where he was.

“He said he was going to his friend’s house, and from his friend’s house, his mother said around 6 o’clock they left, said they was going to Harvey Park,” she said.

The words keep playing in her head. It’s a nightmare, Leonard said, one she just can’t escape.

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