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N.H. Mom Charged With Murder Of 5-Year-Old Son Who Was Found Buried In Woods

Danielle Dauphinais has been charged with first-degree murder for purposely causing the death of her son and other charges in connection with the 2021 death of Elijah Lewis.

By Gina Tron
A police handout of Danielle Dauphinais

The mother of a New Hampshire child whose remains were found last October in a wooded area has now been indicted for his murder.

New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella announced that Danielle Dauphinais, 35, has been indicted on multiple charges in connection with the killing of Elijah Lewis, 5, WCVB reports.

Lewis was reported missing by the New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families on Oct. 14, 2021. While police initially said he hadn’t been seen in at least six months, New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan G. Morrell told Oxygen.com after his body was identified that they'd narrowed the window of when he was last seen to mid-September.

Dauphinais and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, 30, were arrested in the Bronx on Oct. 17 for child endangerment and allegedly hindering the effort to find the young boy through witness tampering.

Lewis' remains were discovered on Oct. 23, buried in a wooded area of Abington, Massachusetts — about 70 miles southeast of his hometown of Merrimack, New Hampshire. Police said they were led to the site by "credible information" in the days before the buried body was discovered by a cadaver doc, ABC News reported. 

An autopsy determined that the young child died of violence, neglect, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers (colloquially known as bed sores)

Morrell said in a press conference at the time that they would evaluate the case to see if additional charges would be filed. Dauphinais has been held without bail ever since.

On Friday, a grand jury indicted Dauphinais on one count of first-degree murder for purposely causing the death of her son, one count of second-degree murder for causing the death of her son recklessly with extreme indifference to the value of human life and three counts of tampering with witnesses, according to WMUR.

"Every murder is difficult," Attorney General John Formella stated last week. "It's especially difficult when we're dealing with a young child. Like I said, our team has been working hard on this and will continue to work hard as the case moves forward."

It's not clear if Dauphinais has an attorney. She's expected to be arraigned in Nashua. Stapf remains incarcerated on the prior charges.