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Body of 5-year-old NH boy believed found days after mother, boyfriend arrested

Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 11:52 PM MDT
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ABINGTON, Mass. (WHDH) - The search for a 5-year-old boy from New Hampshire, who had been missing for weeks, came to a tragic end when human remains believed to be his were found in a wooded area in Massachusetts.

A cadaver dog discovered Saturday morning what authorities believe to be the body of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis buried under soil near Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, Massachusetts, according to Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz.

“A little boy is gone. Nobody deserves to die this way, and we need to make sure we do everything in our power to make sure we can get justice for this little boy,” Cruz said.

Authorities found what they believe to be the body of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis buried under soil...
Authorities found what they believe to be the body of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis buried under soil near a Massachusetts state park. The boy was reported missing in mid-October.(Source: Merrimack NH Police, WHDH via CNN)

Police from both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, where Elijah was from, began an extensive search in the area Friday after sources say a “confession” led them there.

The 5-year-old was reported missing in mid-October, with police saying he hadn’t been seen in weeks.

“Our thoughts are with Eli’s family and the entire Merrimack community. I’m glad and relieved we were able to bring some closure to this part of the ongoing investigation,” said Col. Christopher Mason with the Massachusetts State Police.

Elijah’s mother, 35-year-old Danielle Dauphinais, and her boyfriend, 30-year-old Joseph Stapf, were arrested last Sunday in connection with the boy’s disappearance. Authorities accused them of asking relatives to lie about Elijah and where he was living, knowing that child protection service workers were searching for him.

The couple have since pleaded not guilty to witness tampering and child endangerment. A judge ordered them held without bail.

Elijah’s mother, 35-year-old Danielle Dauphinais, and her boyfriend, 30-year-old Joseph Stapf,...
Elijah’s mother, 35-year-old Danielle Dauphinais, and her boyfriend, 30-year-old Joseph Stapf, were arrested in connection with the boy’s disappearance. They have since pleaded not guilty to witness tampering and child endangerment.(Source: NH DOJ, WHDH via CNN)

An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday to determine the identity of the body and the exact cause and manner of death, according to New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell.

After the autopsy has been performed, authorities will determine what, if any, additional charges will be brought against Dauphinais and Stapf.

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