A New Hampshire boy vanished last spring and his mother and her boyfriend are now under arrest in connection to the case, authorities said.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Justice, 5-year-old Elijah Lewis of Merrimack was last seen around six months ago but never reported missing. "We never saw this little boy, and several of us are just aghast that there was a 5-year-old living there," the couple's neighbor, Steve Jaynes, told WBZ-TV.
On Oct. 14, the Division for Children, Youth and Families notified law enforcement about Lewis’ unknown whereabouts. Authorities immediately launched an investigation and began looking for Lewis’ mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, 30.
New York City Transit Authority officers took Dauphinais and Stapf into custody in the Bronx on Oct. 17.
The couple is now charged with witness tampering and child endangerment. The New Hampshire DOJ explained: “The witness tampering charges allege that they each asked other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living knowing that child protection service workers were searching for Elijah. The endangerment charge alleges that they violated a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah."
Dauphinais and Stapf were arraigned in the Bronx County Criminal Court and are expected to be extradited to New Hampshire for arraignment in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
“We're trying to find Elijah,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati said. “We hope we're going to find him in good condition. But I would be less than honest if I didn't say that the chances of that are not looking great at this point.”
WDHD reported Lewis' father currently lives in Arizona and has been in contact with law enforcement.
Anyone with information on Elijah’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Merrimack Police Department’s Crimeline at (603) 424-2424 or New Hampshire State Police Communications at (603) 223-4381 or (603) MCU-TIPS (603-628-8477).