Mother of Missing Merrimack, NH Boy Arrested in New York City
The mother of Elijah "Eli" Lewis, the 5-year-old boy missing for the last six months but only reported on Thursday and a man she is traveling with were arrested in New York Coty on Sunday.
The state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) became aware on Thursday that no one had reported Lewis as missing during the last six months. Merrrimack Police immediately began an investigation which was joined by New Hampshire State Police and the New Hampshire Department of Justice.
Danielle Denise Dauphinais, 35, and Joseph Stapf, 30 were arrested in the Bronx by New York City Transit Authority Police and charged with witness tampering and child endangerment, according to New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella. They will be arraigned in Bronx County Criminal Court on Monday; the state of New Hampshire has sought their extradition.
Fornella said that Dauphinais and Stapf allegedly knew child protection services were looking for Elijah and asked people to lie about the boy and where he was living. The endangerment charge alleges that they violated a duty of care, protection or support for Elijah, according to the Attorney General.
The relationship between Fornella and Stapf was not disclosed by Fornella or why they were in New York City.
Investigators spent time at a home on Sunset Drive in Merrimack and searching Naticook Lake in back of the house, according to Patch of Merrimack, which reported the house belongs to Joseph Stapf's mother Joanne Stapf.
Fornella said there does not appear to be any danger to the public.
Police asked anyone with information to call the Merrimack Police Department’s Crimeline at 603-424-2424 or New Hampshire State Police Communications at 603-223-4381 or 603-MCU-TIPS (603-628-8477).