Mother of 5-year-old found dead in Massachusetts woods indicted on first-degree murder, other charges

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The mother of a missing New Hampshire 5-year-old boy who was found dead in the Massachusetts woods on Oct. 23 has been indicted on multiple charges, including a first-degree murder charge, according to New Hampshire Attorney General’s office.

The Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Elijah Lewis’ cause of death a homicide in November 2021. The 5-year-old died of violence and neglect, including fentynal intoxication, facial and scalp injuries, malnourishment and pressure ulcers, AG John Formella’s office announced at the time.

His mother, 35-year-old Danielle Denise Dauphinais, now faces charges of first-degree murder; second-degree murder; and three counts of tampering with witnesses.

Elijah Lewis, of Merrimack, was last seen by "independent individuals approximately six months ago," the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said. 

Elijah Lewis, of Merrimack, was last seen by “independent individuals approximately six months ago,” the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said. 
(New Hampshire Attorney General Office)

Dauphinais and her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, 30, are being held in New Hampshire custody without bail. 

MOTHER OF 5-YEAR-OLD FOUND DEAD IN MASSACHUSETTS WOODS CALLED SON ‘THE NEXT TED BUNDY’

The New Hampshire Division for Youth, Children and Families (DYCF) notified authorities of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis’ unknown whereabouts on Oct. 14, according to New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella’s office. Lewis was last seen six months prior.

Four months before Elijah’s disappearance, Dauphinais complained to a friend that the boy’s behavior was becoming “worse and worse,” according to text messages obtained by The Boston Globe.

Authorities are looking to speak with the boy’s mother, 35-year-old Danielle Denise Dauphinais, and a man she is believed to be with, 30-year-old Joseph Stapf.

Authorities are looking to speak with the boy’s mother, 35-year-old Danielle Denise Dauphinais, and a man she is believed to be with, 30-year-old Joseph Stapf.
(New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office )

“I call him the next Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer,” Dauphinais wrote to the friend. “It’s so sad, but I have no connection with this child.”

ELIJAH LEWIS REMAINS FOUND IN MASSACHUSETTS: AUTHORITIES DISCOVER 5-YEAR-OLD’S BODY ‘BURIED IN THE WOODS’

Lewis was the fourth of Dauphinais’ six children.

Officers with the New York City Transit Authority (MTA) initially located and arrested Dauphinais and Stapf on witness tampering and child endangerment charges in New York City on Oct. 14, Formella’s office said at the time.

Dauphinais and Stapf allegedly told people they knew to lie about Lewis and where he was living, knowing that child protection services were searching for the boy.

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The Merrimack Police Department immediately began an investigation into Lewis’ whereabouts on Oct. 14 “and was assisted later that day by the New Hampshire State Police and the New Hampshire Department of Justice,” the attorney general’s office said.

“Elijah was never reported missing to authorities prior to this time,” Formella’s office said.

Authorities located his remains buried in the woods in Abington, Massachusetts, on Oct. 23.

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