NH Authorities Believe Missing 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis Is Dead Amid Search of Mass. Woods

The boy's mother and her boyfriend are accused of asking other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living, knowing that child protection service workers were searching for him

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What to Know

  • Police have been searching for 5-year-old Elijah Lewis after he was reported missing on Oct. 14.
  • His mother, Danielle Dauphinais, and a man were arrested in New York City on charges they asked people to lie about where Elijah was living, knowing child protection service workers were searching for him.
  • The search in Massachusetts' Ames Nowell State Park on Friday was "based on information learned in the investigation," prosecutors and police said. The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office said it believes Lewis is deceased.

As investigators search the woods in Abington, Massachusetts, in connection to the disappearance of Elijah Lewis, New Hampshire authorities believe the missing Merrimack 5-year-old is dead.

Lewis, 5, was last seen at his home in Merrimack within about the last month, officials have said in recent days. Investigators have combed the area, searching by helicopter and a nearby lake by boat.

The boy's mother and her boyfriend, Danielle Dauphinais, 35, and Joseph Stapf, 30, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to witness tampering and child endangerment charges. They are accused of asking other people to lie about Elijah and where he was living, knowing that child protection service workers were searching for him.

The search in Massachusetts on Friday was "based on information learned in the investigation," according to a news release from New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Nathan A. Noyes and Merrimack Police Chief Brian K. Levesque.

A massive police presence was in Abington, Massachusetts, to help in the search for Elijah Lewis, a 5-year-old missing from Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Despite releasing few details about the search, authorities in New Hampshire Friday night said they don't think they'll find the child alive.

"We do have a belief at this time that Elijah is deceased," said Ben Agati, New Hampshire's senior assistant attorney general.

Agati's conclusion is based on the new leads that brought investigators to Abington.

"We're hoping we're going to find Elijah to be OK," said Agati. "At this point, we have to face the probability that Elijah is not OK."

Watch a Massachusetts district attorney and the head of the state police give an update on a massive search in Abington connected to the disappearance of Elijah Lewis, a 5-year-old from New Hampshire.

It wasn't immediately clear what the new information was, and Plymouth, Massachusetts, District Attorney Timothy Cruz didn't elaborate at a news briefing Friday afternoon.

"We're looking right here regarding information that we've received and corroborated," Cruz said.

Police activity was seen at Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, Massachusetts, Friday, and local police confirmed asked the public to avoid the area of 500 Chestnut Street. They didn't say what the nature of the police activity was, but said there was no danger to the public.

"I just can't get over it," said Chestnut Street resident Eleanor Woods. "It's very sad to think it's right down the street from me."

Cruz said dozens of police officers, including some from Rhode Island and New Hampshire, were at the scene, and would be until at least the evening.

Elijah Lewis, a 5-year-old boy from Merrimack, New Hampshire, has not been seen for about six months.

Asked if he thinks Elijah is alive, Cruz said, "I think you're always hopeful that somebody's alive until somebody's found not to be. ... We have a responsibility to move forward and try to find this little boy."

Aerial footage showed police gathered near a water tower, though it wasn't clear if the water tower was part of the investigation.

Massachusetts State Police were leading the search at the state park Friday, authorities said, with assistance from the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit.

The New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families notified police on Oct. 14 that Elijah was missing, and he is believed to have gone missing within 30 days of the 14th. The extent of the child services agency's involvement with the boy is unclear.

New York City transit officers located and arrested Dauphinais and Stapf on Sunday in the Bronx.

Two of Dauphinais' brothers have said they are worried about their nephew and want their sister to come forward with information.

"He's 5 years old," said Elijah's uncle, Randy Stewart. "He doesn't deserve this, he deserves to have a shot."

A New Hampshire woman and her boyfriend appeared in court in connection with the disappearance of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis.
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