A man was sentenced Thursday in the death of New Hampshire boy Elijah Lewis,
Joseph Stapf pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter, second degree assault, falsifying physical evidence and witness tampering Thursday. He was sentenced to 20-40 years at New Hampshire State Prison on the manslaughter charge and two to five years on the other charges. It was also recommended he have no contact with Elijah's family.
Stapf is the boyfriend of the missing boy's mother, Danielle Dauphinais, 35, who was indicted earlier this year on one count of first-degree murder for purposely causing the death of Elijah Lewis; one count of second-degree murder for causing the death of Elijah Lewis recklessly with extreme indifference to the value of human life; and three counts of tampering with witnesses. She has pled not guilty.
That indictment came about six months after the little boy's body was found in a wooded area in Abington.
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Elijah's father Timothy Lewis gave a victim impact statement at Stapf's sentencing, calling his actions "unforgivable" and questioning how someone could harm a 5-year-old boy. Lewis' grandparents and aunt also gave impact statements via victim advocates.
Court documents allege that Dauphinais caused her son's death sometime between September 2020 and September 2021, but the details as to what exactly happened are still unclear.
Dauphinais and her boyfriend, Stapf, had previously been charged with child endangerment and witness tampering for allegedly telling people to lie about Elijah's whereabouts.
Prosecutors say a cadaver dog found the little boy's remains covered with soil, and say he hadn't been seen for about a month before he was reported missing last October.
Officials say an autopsy later revealed Elijah's cause of death was violence and neglect, which included facial and scalp injuries as well as acute fentanyl intoxication.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Massachusetts determined the boy suffered “facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers.”