Mom of N.H. boy missing for 6 months asked others to lie about his whereabouts, officials say
The mother of a missing New Hampshire 5-year-old and a man were arrested Monday and accused of covering up that he disappeared six months ago.
Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, and Joseph Stapf, 30, are charged with witness tampering and child endangerment, according to a statement from the office of New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella.
Formella's office announced last week that the 5-year-old Elijah Lewis had been reported missing on Oct. 14.
While "Elijah was never reported missing to authorities prior to this time," he "was last seen by independent individuals approximately six months ago," a statement said.
Dauphinais and Stapf are accused of asking "other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living knowing that child protection service workers were searching for Elijah," and violating "a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah," prosecutors said.
New York City Transit Authority officers arrested the pair in the Bronx. Authorities in New Hampshire said Dauphinais and Stapf will be extradited. Though multiple news outlets have reported the suspects are a couple, officials have not confirmed that detail.
The Merrimack Police Department, New Hampshire State Police and New Hampshire Department of Justice are still asking for anyone with knowledge of Elijah's whereabouts to contact them.
Over the weekend and Monday, police were searching a Merrimack lake property where Elijah was last thought to have lived, according to NBC Boston.
"Everybody in the neighborhood has been doing all they can to try to help with this," neighbor Gregory Doppstadt told the station. He said when investigators asked about the boy, he told them he had last seen him a year ago, and was concerned.
"He was a very, very thin kid. He looked a little. My first thought was, 'I got to make this kid a sandwich.' He was really thin. You just wanted to feed him," Doppstadt said.