Missing nh boy last seen 30 days ago
Boy’s mom, her boyfriend charged, held without bail
A New Hampshire woman and her boyfriend pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in connection with the disappearance of her 5-year-old son as authorities continued their search for the boy.
Danielle Dauphinais, 35, and Joseph Stapf, 30, both of Merrimack, were arraigned separately in Hillsborough County Superior Court and detained without bail due to what Judge Charles Temple called “clear and convincing evidence” that their release could endanger them or the public. However, they reserved their right to ask to be released on bail in the future after consulting with their attorneys.
At the courthouse on Wednesday, Dauphinais’s brother appealed to her to “come forward” and “say something” to police about the whereabouts of her son, Elijah Lewis.
Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested on Sunday in the Bronx by New York City Transit Police on warrants for witness tampering and child endangerment, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said on Monday.
The witness tampering charges allege that the defendants each asked other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living, knowing that child protection service workers were searching for him, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The endangerment charge alleges that they violated a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah.
The couple waived extradition and were returned to New Hampshire on Tuesday.
Elijah was first reported missing last Thursday by the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families after social workers didn’t find the boy at the Merrimack home where the three lived. Authorities initially were told he hadn’t been seen in six months. But by Tuesday afternoon, they had narrowed down the timeline and now believe he has been seen at his Sunset Drive home within the last 30 days.
The Merrimack Police Department immediately began an investigation and was assisted later that day by the New Hampshire State Police and the New Hampshire Department of Justice.
“We hope somehow that we’re going to find Elijah, and that he’s going to be OK,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati told the Herald on Wednesday. “But there is a strong possibility that he is not OK.”
Investigators with K-9s have search Elijah’s home, the woods across the street, the pond behind the home and other areas for the last several days.
The boy’s father lives in Arizona and knows that his son is missing, Agati said.
Authorities are urging anyone with information about Elijah’s disappearance to call Merrimack police at (603) 424-2424 or New Hampshire State Police at (603) 223-4381 or 603-MCUTIPS (603-628-8477).
“We hope somehow that we’re going to find Elijah, and that he’s going to be OK. But there is a strong possibility that he is not OK.”
BENJAMIN AGATI New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General