5-year-old Boy's Body Found Buried in Massachusetts


Elijah "Eli" LewisNashua Telegraph

Human remains found under dirt in Abington, Massachusetts belong to a missing 5-year-old boy from New Hampshire. Authorities have been searching for the child ever since child protective services first reported him missing. His mother had left the home they shared and has been allegedly attempting to keep her son’s location a secret. 

Elijah Lewis was reported missing nine days before his body was discovered. The report came in on October 14, 2021, in Merrimack, New Hampshire by the state’s Division for Children Youth and Families after social workers attempted a welfare check on the boy and his sister. Danielle, Eli’s mother, had given birth to a baby two weeks before the visit to the home. That’s when they realized Eli was missing. 

An investigation was launched immediately with watercraft and helicopters scouring the area of Merrimack’s Naticook Lake located directly behind where Elijah was last seen at his home on Sunset Drive. Elijah’s mother and her boyfriend were nowhere to be found. 

Police announced they were looking for the pair and wanted to speak to both of them about Eli’s disappearance. On October 18th, Danielle Dauphinais, 35, and Joseph Stapf, 30, were located in Bronx, New York City, and arrested on charges of witness tampering and child endangerment. It was reported that the two had asked people to lie about Elijah’s whereabouts to avoid child protection services. They were extradited to New Hampshire to face a court judge.

Joseph Stapf, 30 and Danielle Dauphinais, 35.Boston CBS Local

They both pleaded not guilty. Days later, as the search continued for little Eli, authorities began searching in Massachusetts. After finding a cellphone related to the case in a pond in the town of Ayer, police began to search the northern edge of Ames Nowell State Park. On October 23, 2021, his small body was uncovered by a cadaver dog in a shallow grave in a heavily wooded area.

An autopsy was performed, but the cause of death is currently pending. The remains were confirmed to be those of Elijah Lewis. Authorities do not know how long the body has been in the location where it was found. However, they believe the boy was seen at his home within the past month. 

Investigators are waiting for a toxicology report. The results of that report will help determine if any additional charges will be brought against Stapf and Dauphinais. They are scheduled for a court appearance in December. This is still an active investigation and no one has been officially charged in Elijah’s death.

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