A five-year-old New Hampshire boy who was found dead a month after he went missing had fentanyl in his system and was the victim of violence and neglect, prosecutors said.
Elijah Lewis’s remains were discovered in a Massachusetts state park on October 23, a week after his mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, and her boyfriend Joseph Stapf, 30, were arrested in New York City in connection with the boy’s disappearance.
Texts revealed last month by The Boston Globe showed Dauphinais allegedly complaining about Elijah to a childhood friend in June and calling him ‘the next Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.’
Dauphinais, who lived in Merrimack, N.H., with the boy, reportedly told her friend that she couldn’t ‘trust him anymore’ as a result of Elijah urinating over his bedding and clothes and playing with his own feces.
She also wrote to her friend: ‘I want him gone. I can’t handle it anymore,’ according to the Globe.
Elijah Lewis, 5, death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy by the chief medical examiner in Massachusetts
The search for 5-year-old Elijah Lewis led investigators to Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, where they found his remains on October 23 after a 10-day search across five states
‘The cause of Elijah’s death was determined to be violence and neglect, including facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers,’ a statement by the New Hampshire’s attorney general, John M. Formella read
Elijah’s mother, Danielle Dauphinais, 35, and her boyfriend Joseph Stapf, 30, were arrested in New York City on October 16 in connection with the little boy’s disappearance. No charges have been filed in connection to Elijah’s death yet
Autopsy results by the Massachusetts chief medical examiner on Monday determined that Elijah died as a result of homicide.
‘The cause of Elijah’s death was determined to be violence and neglect, including facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers,’ a statement by the New Hampshire’s attorney general, John M. Formella read.
After being charged with child endangerment and witness tampering in New York, Dauphinais and Stapf were extradited to New Hampshire, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges.
No charges have yet been filed over the boy’s death. They remain in jail without bail.
‘I am sick to my stomach,’ MJ Morrison, the aunt of one of Elijah’s brothers, told the Globe. ‘I didn’t expect anything [like] this. I was hoping this was an accidental overdose and he got into something [and] they just panicked and didn’t know what to do.’
Elijah’s body was found in Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, Massachusetts – about 70 miles from Merrimack – on October 23 following a 10-day search across five states.
New Hampshire State Police said that investigators were contacted with ‘credible’ information that led them to search the area and that Elijah’s body was found ‘buried in the ground.’ Massachusetts State Police also assisted in the search.
After being arrested in New York City on October 16, Dauphinais and her boyfriend were charged with child endangerment and witness tampering in a Bronx courtroom, before the pair were extradited to their home state.
The couple was escorted by New Hampshire authorities back to the state to face charges in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
Police in Merrimack had been searching the home where Dauphinais and Elijah lived since October 14 for evidence about his disappearance.
Elijah Lewis (pictured), who was last seen six months ago, was reported missing on October 14 by Department of Children, Youth and Families in Merrimack. Police said his body was found Elijah’s body was found ‘buried in the ground’ of a wooded area in Abington
New Hampshire State Police said that investigators were contacted with ‘credible’ information that led them to search in Ames Nowell State Park
Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, is pictured in Bronx County Criminal Court before being extradited to New Hampshire in connection with the disappearance of her five-year-old son i October
New Hampshire authorities take Joseph Stapf, 30, (pictured in handcuffs) into custody following an extradition hearing at Bronx County Criminal Court on October 16
The Department of Children, Youth and Families in Merrimack had alerted police that Elijah had not been seen in months.
Knowing that Child Protective Services was searching for the boy, the couple allegedly instructed others to lie about his whereabouts, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office.
In the arrest warrant, the office alleges that ‘they violated a duty of care, protection or support’ for the five-year-old.
Dauphinais’ childhood friend Erika Wolfe told the Globe that she had not spoken to Dauphinais in years, before she got in contact over Snapchat by responding to one of her posts on her story.
During their exchange, Wolfe mentioned her own challenges in dealing with her son’s behavior, before Dauphinais mentioned that the New Hampshire child welfare agency were involved with her own situation.
Elijah had only recently started living with Danielle – who has six children – having been sent by his father to his mother in May 2020.
It is not currently known why Elijah was sent to his mother from his father, who lives in Arizona.
Knowing that Child Protective Services was searching for the boy, Dauphinais and Stapf allegedly instructed others to lie about his whereabouts, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office
New Hampshire State Police took several items from 4 Sunset Drive in Merrimack, Elijah Lewis’s last known home on October 18
In Merrimack, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Dive Team (pictured) took several boats of divers to look for the missing boy in Naticook Lake before he was found dead on October 23
Police in Massachusetts discovered the body of Elijah last month in a wooded area (pictured) near the town of Abington following a 10-day search across five states