The search for a missing 5-year-old New Hampshire boy ended with the worst possible outcome Saturday morning as state police search teams found his body buried in a shallow grave off Chestnut Street.
“Nobody deserves to die this way,” said Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz during an afternoon press conference. “Now we’re going to make sure we do everything we can to try and get him justice.”
Cruz declined to comment on any additional details including exactly where he was found or how long he may have been there. New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said a New Hampshire state police dog trained to sniff cadavers found the body, which, she said, “was covered with soil.”
Elijah Lewis was last seen weeks ago. New Hampshire child welfare officials reported him missing on Oct. 14 to Merrimack, N.H. police, kicking off a frantic search for both the boy, his mother, Danielle Dauphinais, and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf.
Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested Sunday in New York, extradited back to New Hampshire, and charged with child endangerment and witness tampering.
Prosecutors said no decision has been made whether the couple will face any additional charges is relating to his death and autopsy is scheduled this week. Investigators were still processing the site Saturday afternoon. Cruz said his office “will follow the facts where they lead us” in determining who should be charged.
Morrell declined to say whether information from Dauphinais led investigators to Abington. Media reports said the mother told police her son had been buried off Chestnut Street. WCVB reported that a cell phone found at Sandy Pond in Ayer also provided investigators with information.
Searchers spent hours Friday combing through the construction site and surrounding woodlands, where the underbrush can often dense and thorny. The search zone extended to Ames Nowell State Park, which is located across the street.
Abington Police Chief David Del Papa said he didn’t know of any connection Dauphinais or Stapf had to Abington or why Lewis was left in the town.
“No idea,” he said. “They are not known to us.”
The search was led by trained teams from the Massachusetts and New Hampshire state police.
Del Papa said Abington Police helped keep the roads closed to traffic and provided search teams with details about the area.