When I see a face like this on a missing poster it brings me back to the Caylee Anthony Case. The innocent smile tugs your heart and you wonder what could have happened to such a sweet little one. I can’t for the life of me understand why these cases always end up with the most heartbreaking endings usually at the hands of people these children should have been able to trust to love them and care for them… certainly trust them not to murder them. Unfortunately, in this case, this is not how things unfolded.
Elijah Easton Lewis was born in Mesa, Arizona on January 7, 2016. A fourth child to his mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, also called “Dee” and the third child born to his father, Timothy Lewis. Danielle would have a total of 6 children.
I first came to be aware of this case when news broke that Elijah Lewis, age 5 was missing on October 14, 2021. Right away the story did not make sense – was he just missing? Was he missing a month? Was he missing 6 months? No one seems to know.. His mother was in a relationship with a man named Joseph “Jo” Stafp and they reportedly just had a newborn child that she dropped off at the hospital because she was unable to care for the child.
Surrendering the child led to CPS wanting to check on the status of the other children in the home. Dauphinais had several stories about Elijah’s whereabouts but refused to provide verifiable information. She had had custody for only a little over a year after his father sent him to live with his mother from Arizona on May 27th, 2020 after having custody of the child since he was one. I have not seen information as to why the custody switch occurred especially after court records indicate that Lewis felt that Dauphinais was an “implusive” and “violent” and was aware of her addiction issues. The decision seems to make little sense but I could find no sources with any further information on the father before or after the boy went missing. No public appeals. No interviews, Nothing. It’s also telling that in all of her frustration with Elijah, it’s not mentioned that she tried or intended to try to send him back to live with his father.
Danielle reportedly told friends and family that she was going to send Elijah to California to live with a friend or relative due to his “behavioral issues”, but apparently that never occurred. Dauphinais had previously given up the rights to 3 of her six children, and CPS has custody of the young daughter and newborn but Elijah was the only child that could not be accounted for. A friend of this so called mother indicated that Dauphinais told her that Elijah was “the next Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer” and admitted that she had no emotional connection to him and that she wanted him “gone”. She reportedly said to this friend, Erika Wolfe, that she kept Elijah in his room because she couldn’t trust him anymore.
A large scale search was made for Elijah, including extensive searching of the Sunset Drive property in Merrimack, NH where the family lived. Mom and her boyfriend, feeling the heat, skipped town as they were being pursued by the police for more extensive questioning in this case. The police were concerned quickly that the case was not going to have a happy ending.
A break in the case occurred when youths in Ayer, MA found a cell phone and turning it into authorities. This found provided invaluable information including the location information for where the phone had been and phone information on another phone that was used to track the whereabouts of the rogue parents. Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested in the Bronx on 10/17/21 and charged with child endangerment and witness tampering charges. Both have plead not gulty and they have their next court date scheduled this month. They are being held in jail until that time.
The cell phone location also lead the police to a small park in a rural neighborhood of Abington, MA. Searches of the park with Cadaver dogs lead to the discovery of the body, later identified with dental records as Elijah buried in a shallow grave. Cause of death for the child has not yet been determined however toxicology and more extensive autopsy studies are still being completed. It is expected that the charges will be upgraded in this case but without a certain cause of death it could be difficult to obtain the murder conviction(s) that I personally hope to see in this case.
Case Update #1 11/23/21 The medical examiner has come back with Elijah’s cause of death as violence and extreme neglect. His face and his head showed signs of trauma and his blood contained fentanyl . The saddest part yet is he had bed sores which suggests to me that this was serious, long standing abuse. I am hoping to hear very soon that the charges are upgraded to murder.
Case Update #2 12/28/21
Joseph Stump has requested and been granted a continuance until April 2022 due to the complexity of the case. There was no update on the charges against Danielle Dauphinanis – she was also scheduled for a Dispositional hearing on the 16th but I could find no documentation as to whether that hearing has occurred.