ABINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) – Human remains found in a wooded area near a state park in Abington Saturday morning are believed to be a 5-year-old boy in New Hampshire who has been missing for several weeks, according to Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz .
A New Hampshire State Police carcass dog discovered the body of Elijah Lewis, who had been missing for several weeks, buried underground near Ames Nowell State Park.
This comes after Massachusetts and Granite State Police on Friday began an extensive search of Ames Nowell State Park in the area around Chestnut Street, according to New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Nathan A. Noyes, and Merrimack Chief of Police Brian K. Levesque.
“Our thoughts are with Eli’s family and the entire Merrimack community,” Massachusetts Police Colonel Christopher Mason said at a news conference Saturday. “I am pleased and relieved that we were able to bring a closure to this part of the ongoing investigation and most importantly help bring Eli home with some dignity.”
A kind of “confession” led investigators to Abington on Friday, said law enforcement sources. Earlier this week, Lewis’ uncle called the boy’s mother, 35-year-old Danielle Dauphinais, to work with detectives.
Search teams had searched the woods and lakes in the Sunset Drive area of Merrimack during the week before moving south to Abington on Friday and Saturday.
Dauphinais and her boyfriend, 30-year-old Joseph Stapf, emerged from prison via video on Wednesday, pleading not guilty in Hillsborough County Superior Court South to charges of manipulating witnesses and endangering children.
Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested in New York over the weekend in connection with Lewis’ disappearance.
New Hampshire State Department of Children, Youth and Families reported Elijah Lewis missing last week, and officials initially said he had not been seen for six months, but investigators announced Tuesday that they now believe the boy was last seen at his home sometime within the last 30 days.
Dauphinais and Stapf are accused of asking relatives to lie about Lewis and where he lived, knowing that child personnel are searching for the boy, authorities said. They have also allegedly violated the duty of care, protection or support of Lewis.
A judge ordered the couple detained without bail.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Massachusetts will conduct an autopsy 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, the authorities will decide which, if any. Additional charges will be filed against Dauphinais and Stapf.
An investigation continues.
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