A body believed to be that of Elijah “Eli” Lewis, 5, of Merrimack, New Hampshire, United States was found in Abington, Massachusetts, USA. He is the son of Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35.
Lewis was reported missing by the New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families on October 14, 2021. On the same day, the Merrimack Police Department started an investigation and was assisted by the New Hampshire State Police and the New Hampshire Department of Justice.
On October 16, 2021, New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol unit launched a boat that searched Naticook Lake, whish sits directly behind a home on Sunset Drive in Merrimack, which was Lewis’s last known location, according to the New Hampshire State Police. Amber Alert was not issued because the situation did not meet the criteria, New Hampshire assistant attorney general Ben Agati told WMUR.
“Amber Alerts need to be utilized in a proper way,” Agati explained. “This is one where it’s much better for us to get the word out, get photographs out and disseminate the information that way.”
Family and friends had not seen Lewis for six months, according to Dauphinais and Joseph Stapf, 30, who is not the boy’s father. However, neither Dauphinais nor Stapf reported the boy missing before October 14, 2021.
Lewis’s father does not live in New Hampshire and is aware of the disappearance of his son. When New Hampshire authorities issued a bulletin looking for Lewis, Dauphinais and Stapf allegedly asked people to lie about where her son was living because they knew child protection service workers were looking for the boy.
On October 17, 2021, New York City Transit Authority officers arrested Dauphinais and Stapf in the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. They were each charged with witness tampering and child endangerment.
Accused of violating a duty of care, protection or support for Lewis., Dauphinais and Stapf were arraigned in Hillsborough County Superior Court on October 20, 2021. On October 24, 2021, an autopsy will be performed in Massachusetts to confirm the exact cause of death and official identification of the body found in Abington believed to be that of Lewis.
“On behalf of the people of New Hampshire, I would like to thank New Hampshire and Massachusetts law enforcement and everyone else involved for their tireless focus this past week on bringing closure to this search,” New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu said in a statement obtained by New Hampshire Public Radio. “May Elijah rest in peace.”