A body found in a heating vent on the roof of an elementary school may be that of a 17-year-old runaway missing from his Security home for nearly a month, authorities said Friday evening.

An off-duty Colorado Springs police officer helping the family search for the boy discovered a body Friday afternoon at French Elementary School in Widefield School District 3, said Lt. Lari Sevene, a spokeswoman with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators suspect the body belongs to the boy, who was reported missing on Nov. 11, Sevene said.

Deputies couldn’t find him in November despite interviewing “a multitude of different associates,” Sevene said. They received a fresh tip on Dec. 3 when the boy’s mother said he was last seen on the roof of the school, 5225 Alturas Drive.

The roof initially was too icy to check, but school officials walked across the top of the school on Monday and Tuesday, Sevene said. They found nothing.

The Colorado Springs police officer, who is friends with the boy’s family, decided to check a third time after talking to the boy’s friends, Sevene said.

“It just didn’t sit right with him,” Sevene said.

The officer, whose name was not released, noticed the cover of a roof vent was ajar and took it off to look inside, Sevene said. He saw a body 10 feet to 15 feet down the vent.

The two-foot diameter vent is the main exhaust stack for the school’s boiler, Sevene said.

Firefighters positioned a ladder over the south end of the school Friday evening as they embarked on the delicate task of removing the body from the vent.

They removed it from the vent shortly after midnight, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

Sevene declined to name the missing teen until the body is removed, an autopsy is completed and the identity is confirmed.

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